Kathmandu, December 4
As incidents of bomb blasts targeting election candidates and campaigns continue unabated across the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs continues to reiterate its commitment to holding elections in a fear-free environment.
The second phase of polls are being held in 45 districts for 128 parliamentary and 256 provincial seats on December 7, but bomb blasts continue unchecked, injuring candidates as well as innocent civilians.
In the most recent incident, Nepali Congress leader and parliamentary election candidate from Kathmandu Constituency-4 Gagan Kumar Thapa was injured, along with 10 others, when a bomb targeting his election campaign went off in Chapali, Kathmandu, today.
In another incident last week, a vehicle carrying Nepali Congress Udayapur-2 parliamentary candidate Narayan Bahadur Karki was ambushed, injuring him critically.
The Home Ministry, however, said they did not have any issues as far as providing security to election-related programmes was concerned, and they were strictly implementing their security strategy.
Acknowledging that anti-election criminal activities were taking place ‘at a few places’, Home Ministry Spokesperson Narayan Prasad Sharma Duwadi said they had taken such ‘condemnable criminal activities seriously’ and were ‘watchful’.
“We have experience, strength and success in providing effective security to elections in the past. So we are confident about holding the forthcoming elections peacefully and in a fear-free environment,” he said.
To curb such activities, the home administration has adopted proactive measures such as patrolling in coordination with all the security agencies, under which several people, including both those involved in criminal activities and those who could possibly be involved, have been arrested and legal action has been initiated, according to Duwadi. Security forces have also confiscated materials such as weapons and explosives from them.
“We have also adopted reactive measures, under which security forces are deployed immediately after the incident, search operations are carried out and those involved are arrested and action is taken,” he said. On specific strategy, Duwadi said the administration had adopted district-specific, situation-specific security strategy and action would be initiated based on specific situation at a specific location.
“We will leave no stone unturned to fulfil this historic responsibility, and all the agencies, including the home administration and security agencies, are capable of doing this,” he said.
The ministry also said the administration was looking at the bombing incidents purely from the crime point of view and was not trying to analyse why such activities were taking place and to which criminal or political group the involved were affiliated with.
Investigations, however, will continue, said Duwadi. “We will review the incidents from our side as well as from the political-level after elections and make public the outcome. But our focus now is on holding peaceful elections,”
A version of this article appears in print on December 05, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.