KATHMANDU, MAY 29
Khadgajeet Baral was a former Inspector General of Nepal Police (IGP). Widely regarded as one of the most successful and influential chiefs of Nepal Police, he served as the Ambassador of Nepal to Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia, Indonesia and the French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), as Chief Liaison Officer of the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia), and as a Member of the Parliament.
Baral was born to Captain Bahadur Singh Baral and Saraswati Baral in 1928 at Chuli Bojha in Palpa, Nepal.
He attended Patna University, where he obtained his Master's degree in Political Science in 1955.
Baral served in the then Mukti Sena, formed to combat the autocratic Rana regime. Rebelling against the decision (Delhi-Tripartite-Agreement) to allow Mohan Shumsher JBR to continue as Nepal's prime minister in 1951, Baral along with the rest of the Bhairahawa Morcha of the Mukti Sena, were ambushed and held captive by then Indian Army.
Later, Baral along with many other freedom fighters, were imprisoned for three months by Nepal's government.
Career in Nepal Police (1956 - 1978)
Baral enlisted in Nepal Police in 1956 becoming the first academic graduate to join the force. He then briefly served as 'Security Officer' to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during the latter's visit to Nepal in 1959.
In 1972, Baral was promoted to IGP at the age of 44, becoming the youngest police chief in the history of Nepal after the enactment of Police Act (1955). He was the 'first post-graduate police officer' to reach the position.
Baral and his predecessor, Rom Bahadur Thapa, are the only chiefs to have held the helm for a period of six years.
In 1973, after a yearlong tussle with the then government, Baral was successful in making rations available to all police personnel.
Construction of barracks commenced after the establishment of the Engineering Section at the Police Headquarters. Nepal Police's first engineer, Bharat Sharma, was recruited in Baral's tenure.
Earlier, locals were reluctant to visit police offices, which were generally in clumsy party-pauwa-rented buildings. Intending to make a commoners-friendly police force, Baral conceived 'aesthetically attractive' police buildings in the traditional pagoda-temple structure.
Due to budget constraints, the majority of such buildings were built with the collective effort of both the locals (cash and land donations) and police. Soon after, common people began to view police offices as 'temples of justice' and became more 'police-friendly'.
Police morale was also greatly boosted, helping serve society more efficiently. Later, other government buildings emulated the pagoda architecture of police edifices.
Distribution of free uniforms to all police personnel also started in 1976. As such, basic necessities like gaans (food), baas (building) and kapaas (clothing) were introduced in Baral's tenure.
Contributions to Border Security
When Baral served as the police chief, Nepali police personnel were sent to India to undergo border security training for the first time. Several such personnel were then deployed as instructors to impart the same knowledge and experience to other police trainees in Nepal.
The 16-year-plan of constructing border security police check-posts was conceived and implemented during Baral's tenure. Prior to Baral's retirement, around 20-25 check-posts were constructed under this plan.
Along the Nepal-China border, check-posts were constructed at Thyangboche (Solukhumbu), Olangchungola (Taplejung), Kimathanka (Sankhuwasabha), Humde (Manang), Lomanthang (Mustang), Muchu and Yari (both in Humla), Chekampar (Gorkha), Tinje (Dolpa) and Mugu. Similarly, along the Nepal-India border, check-posts were constructed at Tinkar (Darchula), Sangrampur (Sarlahi), Krishnanagar (Kapilvastu), Dattu (Darchula), Pritipur (Kailali), Sangadi (Doti), Pahupatinagar and Manebhanjhyang (both in Ilam), Kakarbhitta (Jhapa), KattiKattaiya (Mahottari) and Belahiya (Bhairahawa).
Other contributions in Nepal Police
Prior to becoming the chief, Baral had envisioned and tried building 'police schools', especially for lowranking personnel who were unable to afford their children's education.
However, this plan was only implemented following his retirement.
The conception and initiation of an independent hospital for Nepal Police commenced during Baral's tenure. Police Hospital's founder medical-director Dr Prem Lal Shrestha was recruited during the same period.
At a time when the Royal Aide-de- Camp (ADC), who served as security officers to the royal family, excluded selection from the Newari and the Brahmin communities, inspector Tirtha Pradhan was appointed ADC upon Baral's nomination.
On Baral's request, band master Captain Hasta Bahadur Thapa of the British Gurkha Army, came to Nepal to train the then inept Nepal Police Band. In 1973, police personnel outside the previously 'limited ethnic community' were included in Nepal Police Band for the first time. Later, Thapa was permanently recruited as band master of Nepal Police Band, serving for more than two decades.
The Law Section was established in Nepal Police during Baral's tenure.
He played a pivotal role in the enactment of Nepal's first Immigration Act, Evidence Act (2031 BS), and Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act (2033 BS). These acts had been envisioned by Baral in order to prevent foreigners from exploiting the existing loopholes in the security system of Nepal, for the modernisation of crime investigation, and to systematise the prosecution of narcotics-related crimes.
In recognition of Baral's numerous contributions, and they being relevant till now, he is revered as the 'Father of Nepal Police'.
Baral received training from IPS (Indian Police Service) (1957), Senior Detective Training from the Cardiff Police School (Wales) and from London's Scotland Yard (1960s). He also received training from the Tokyo Imperial Police College (1966), and Anti-Hijacking Training from the FBI in the US (1974).
Ambassador to Burma (Myanmar) - 1980 - 1985
During Baral's ambassadorship, with the collaborative efforts of artisans and craftsmen of both Burma and Nepal, both the Pashupatinath temple (Mamyo) and the Maha Wijaya Zedi Pagoda (Rangoon) were built in Burma. Among the Burmese, the latter is the most revered pagoda alongside the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The Nepalis in Burma, despite living there for generations, were similar to stateless-refugees with curtailed civil rights as the majority of them only possessed FRC (Foreigner's-Registration-Certificate).
Baral successfully convinced Burmese officials in providing Burmese citizenships-NRCs (National-Registration- Certificates) to more than 40,000 Nepalis residing in Burma.
Contribution to Sports
Baral is credited for importing judo from Japan during the late 1960s after witnessing the sport for the first time while training there in 1966. He later served as president of the Nepal Judo Association for six years during the 1990s. Karate was also introduced when Baral was the police chief in 1973.
Baral, well noted as the 'Founder President' of Akhil Nepal Hockey Association, served as president for eight years. To prepare Nepali hockey players, he invited two national hockey players from Pakistan.
Known to have played a pivotal role in introducing the sport and making it famous in Nepal, Baral is regarded as the pioneer of hockey in Nepal. He successfully introduced hockey in Burma as well, during his ambassadorship.
During Baral's tenure, the Nepal Police Mountaineering and Adventure Foundation (NPMAF) was established. Mount Tukuche (6,920m), conquered in 1976, was the first successful ascent of a mountain by a 'pure Nepali team' in the history of the world. It would be followed by numerous other successful mountain conquests, many of which also involved virgin (unconquered) peaks.
In memory of late Khadgajeet Baral: April 17, 1928-May 19, 2021 (Govinda Karma Thapa was recruited in Nepal Police as an inspector in 1965. Having served at the Hanumandhoka Police Office and the Interpol Section of Police Headquarters during Baral's tenure, he is a former Deputy Inspector General of Nepal Police. He later served as the Chief of Special Police and the National Investigation Department)
A version of this article appears in the print on May 29, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.