Nepal President Ramchandra Poudel on Sunday pardoned 501 convicts including Tharuhat leader and Nagarik Unmukti Party chief Resham Chaudhary who is serving life imprisonment.
Earlier in the morning, a meeting of the Council of Ministers decided to recommend a presidential pardon for 501 jail inmates, including 19 political prisoners, according to the President's Office.
Chaudhary has been serving life imprisonment for brutally killing nine people, including eight policemen, during a riot linked to the Tharuhat movement in the Tikapur area of the Kailali district in 2015.
On Friday, President Poudel refused to waive the life sentence of Chaudhary as recommended by the government.
Former bureaucrats and civil society leaders have expressed concern over the government's latest move.
"This will give rise to the criminalization of politics. This will also pose a serious threat to the rule of law,” said former secretary Shankar Prasad Koirala.
Most of the other 482 inmates exempted from remaining jail terms at the recommendation of the council of ministers faced criminal charges.
The government will release the inmates on the occasion of Republic Day on May 29.
There have been many attempts by several governments to release Chaudhary, who won the 2017 election while still in hiding after being accused in the Tikapur incident.
In December last, the government even brought an ordinance to release Chaudhary, but later decided to drop the idea.