The killing of Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam on Thursday has apparently raised alarms yet again over public security in Kathmandu and across the country. Justice Bam’s murder in the Capital city comes barely 48 hours after the killing of Suresh Yadav, also shot dead Tuesday night in Dhanusha. While Bam has been the first highest ranking court official to be shot dead, Yadav appears to have been a victim of a minor dispute over a pond in the village of Sirsiya. Bam breathed his last even while doctors made frantic efforts to save his life; but the justice’s body guard and a close friend are in hospital undergoing treatment. Yadav died on the spot as he was shot in the chest. In both cases, the assailants are at large and the police have launched culprits-hunts.
Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi, Caretaker Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai and his deputy, Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, rushed to the hospital upon learning about the attack on a sitting judge of the Apex Court. In their brief comments to the media, Bhattarai and Gachchhadar condemned the incident as “attacks on the judiciary”. Now it becomes the key responsibility of the state to arrest at the earliest possible those involved in these shootings. Equally important is the need to come up with a comprehensive investigation, again as early as possible, as to why Justice Bam was murdered roughly one and a half year after being “grounded”. Since early 2011, Justice Bam has not been assigned any case in the Supreme Court and the Judicial Council has recommended the Legislature-Parliament to impeach him over his controversial verdict as Chief Judge of Patan Appellate Court in an arms and ammunition case. According to judiciary watchers, Justice Bam maintained a clean image until he was appointed Chief Judge of the Appellate Court, but the decision to release on bail the trio of Rohit Paliwal Agrawal, Bhimsen Das Pandit and Sanjaya Shrestha – who are doing time in prison for kidnapping on an attempt to murder and abduction case last year – swept that image of him as a clean judge. Some members of the legal fraternity also tend to accuse him of “bench shopping”, meaning the worst level of corruption by a judge, while there are still others who dismiss the blame and think he was a clean and honest judge. Whatever, did the attack on Justice Bam have to do with that particular controversial verdict? Did it have to do with his personal conduct? Or, was it intended to intimidate the judiciary so the judges know the risks and get cowed? These are the questions that need to be answered.
Bhattarai and Gachchhadar have pledged to beef up security measures so that high ranking officials and politicians would be safe. That’s a welcome commitment, but the government also needs to be as sensitive about improving the general law and order situation. This calls for a long-felt need to enhance public security. It is the state’s primary responsibility to keep all the citizenry safe, not just those who are in positions of power. Let’s face it: In Nepal, the thing called public security has become a thing of the past.
Traffic accidents are taking a heavy toll of human lives and maiming and injuring many others. Virtually not even a single day passes by without reports of one major accident or the other from various parts of the country. The accidents often occur because the vehicles carry more passengers than they should. Overloading vehicles with passengers appears to be a normal practice. Despite the provision that does not permit this the regulation is openly not adhered to. This often happens below the nose of the law enforcement agencies. Considering that this is playing with precious human lives, under all circumstances this should not be allowed.
Another major cause for the accidents is the appalling condition of the roads. The hill roads in particular are tortuous which makes driving there dangerous. Besides the roads are in poor conditions. Now that the police have clamped down on drunk driving it is reported that the accidents have become less in the capital city. Meanwhile, since the accidents are occurring in disturbing numbers they could be averted to a large degree by taking necessary precautions.