Poll security challenge daunting in Province 4

Pokhara, November 16

An unidentified group hurled a bomb at a vehicle carrying CPN-Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who is also the left alliance’s parliamentary election candidate from Gorkha Constituency 2, near Sirbhikhola of Gorkha Municipality-10 today.

Earlier, on Tuesday, an improvised explosive device had exploded on a vehicle carrying Nepali Congress parliamentary election candidate Khambir Garbuja at Arjam of Beni Municipality-1 in Myagdi.

No human casualties were reported in both the incidents. However, increase in the number of such attacks against election candidates have left voters as well candidates terrified.

In the recently concluded local level elections, Gorkha, Lamjung and Myagdi of Province 4 were categorised as highly sensitive from the security point of view. As per Province 4 police chief AIG Kamal Singh Bam, there are 205 highly sensitive, 460 sensitive and 582 normal polling stations across the province. There are a total of 1,247 polling booths and 2,051 polling stations across 11 districts of the province.

Of them, 49 polling stations have been categorised as highly sensitive, 41 as sensitive and two as normal, in Gorkha.

Likewise, 18 polling stations of Lamjung have been classified as highly sensitive, 49 as sensitive and 36 as normal.

In Myagdi, 25 are highly sensitive, 36 sensitive and 11 normal polling stations.

The parliamentary and provincial elections are scheduled to be held in Gorkha, Lamjung, Myagdi, Baglung, Manang and Mustang of the province in the first phase, on November 26.  Apart from the Nepali Army and Armed Police Force, as many as 8,000 Nepal Police personnel and 10,700 temporary cops will be mobilised during elections in these districts. As per the existing security arrangement, 15 security personnel will be deployed at highly sensitive, 11 in sensitive and eight in normal polling stations.

Security has been beefed up in the districts considering the looming clash between the two political heavyweights, Shrestha and Baburam Bhattarai from Naya Shakti Party-Nepal, the antagonism between the left and democratic alliances and increasing anti-election activities carried out by the Netra Bikram Chand-led Community Party of Nepal.

Meanwhile, western regional administrator Laxman Aryal said all provinces were almost equally sensitive in terms of security. “The open border, CK Raut’s group and the Netra Bikram Chand–led Maoist party all pose challenges to maintaining the law and order situation for holding elections in a free and fair atmosphere,” said sources, adding that security strategies had been devised keeping in view these threats.

According to Aryal, the security mechanism has been set up in such a way that personnel can reach any site during emergency within 5 minutes in urban areas and within 30 to 45 minutes in rural areas. He added that all security measures had been put in place to conduct elections in a peaceful manner in the region.

However, the weather could play spoilsport in the election in the remote northern districts of Manang and Mustang.