Home ministry fails to check poll-related violence

Kathmandu, November 29 

Although a series of bomb blasts have taken place across the country targeting candidates contesting the provincial and parliamentary elections, the Ministry of Home Affairs has failed to check such incidents.

Ministry officials attributed the failure of the home ministry to the Cabinet reshuffle and transfer of secretaries ahead of the elections. Former home minister Janardan Sharma and Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi, who played a lead role in formulating the security strategy for the elections, are no longer at the ministry. While Sharma has been stripped of his portfolio, Regmi has been promoted to chief secretary.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba himself holds the home portfolio, whereas Mohan Krishna Sapkota has been named the new home secretary.  “The prime minister and home secretary are implementing the security plan devised by someone else. So the problem lies there,” said a ministry source. “During critical time, immediate directions are needed. But the prime minister, who is not readily accessible, holds the home portfolio. As a result, security agencies have not been able to take swift action.”

MoHA officials warned that the security situation might worsen if the ministry continued to grapple with leadership crisis. One person has died while scores of others have sustained injuries in bomb blasts targeting election campaigns across the country so far.

Temporary cop Binod Chaudhary succumbed to injuries that he had sustained in a bomb blast in Dang yesterday, while in another blast today Nepali Congress parliamentary candidate Narayan Bahadur Karki was injured in Udayapur.

In another incident yesterday, a bomb went off in Lagankhel, Lalitpur, near the election rally organised by the left alliance. CPN-UML Chair KP Sharma Oli was also attending the rally.

The home ministry said it was working to curb incidents of violence. “We have adopted an aggressive strategy to control election violence,” MoHA Spokesperson Narayan Sharma Duwadi told The Himalayan Times.

According to Duwadi, police have arrested around 500 persons for carrying out anti-election activities and confiscated a huge amount of explosives and weapons from across the country. “We are reviewing our strategy to address lapses,” he said.

Although the government has not yet officially announced involvement of activists affiliated to Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party in the blasts, most of those arrested are members of the NCP.