Police to strengthen drive to curb crime in public vehicles


Nepal Police, in association with transport entrepreneurs and trade unions and organisations working for women’s rights, has launched a special campaign to curb crimes, including sexual harassment, in public vehicles.

The Metropolitan Police Crime Division, which is spearheading the campaign, said the drive is aimed at making the public transportation safer, women-friendly and decent.

SSP Sarbendra Khanal, MPCD in-charge, said the drive targets crimes ranging from pick-pocketing and robbery to kidnapping and sexual harassment in public vehicles in the Kathmandu Valley.

“The main objective of the joint action is to make the public transportation systematic and dependable through identification and immediate prosecution of suspects,” he said.

More than a dozen monitoring teams, including cops in civvies, have been deployed across the Valley to tackle crimes, especially violence and sexual harassments in public vehicles. Team members will also be travelling in public vehicles as passengers to monitor the situation.

SSP Khanal informed that as many as 150 suspects have been arrested from public vehicles in the past five days.

“Police released 90 of them after their scanning and profiling on the condition that they will mend their ways, while others have been charged under the Public (Crime and Punishment) Act, 1970,” said SSP Khanal. Most of them were caught for misbehaving with fellow passengers, producing fake students’ ID cards to enjoy discount on transport fare, groping women in overcrowded vehicles, making sexual advances towards women and pickpocketing.

During the operation, police also managed to arrest two persons who were suspected to have been involved in human trafficking.

Saroj Sitaula, General Secretary of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs Association, said all transport entrepreneurs and trade unions have stood united with the NP drive to ‘boost the dignity of this sector’. “Criminal activities in public vehicles will no longer be tolerable, and we will work together with the police to curb such crimes,” he said.

According to a 2013 World Bank survey, 26 per cent of female respondents aged between 19 and 35 years said they had experienced some form of sexual assault on public transport in Nepal. Young women aged 19-25 years are more likely to relate to feelings of personal insecurity and fear of ‘inappropriate touching’ in public vehicles, said the report.

Women-only minibuses were introduced in Kathmandu in January in a bid to protect female passengers from sexual harassment, but the users had said they would like to see more such buses.

The main perpetrators are mostly middle-aged men and more than half of all the women who were surveyed in the World Bank report said that they would avoid standing or sitting next to a middle-aged man while travelling in a public vehicle.

One in three women and one in six men feel insecure on a public transport, for the fear of pickpockets, sexual harassment and personal injury due to overcrowding and reckless driving.