Cold trail

Lack of information about criminals is severely hampering the efforts of Nepal Police to bring law and order to the increasingly violent urban centres in the country. Having some kind of information on every individual is next to impossible in a city like Kathmandu bursting at the seams with people: the cops are unable even to estimate the number of occupants of the countless houses (many in overcrowded areas). More inexcusable, though, is their failure to control and keep right information about the owners and employees of crime hubs, night bars and cabin restaurants that seem to be springing up literally everywhere. Nepal Police, in turn, grumbles about lack of cooperation of local authorities in providing right info on criminal elements.

And yet, collection of reliable data and proper record keeping have never been strong points of government-run bodies. Things get done only under “pressure” or when money changes hands. Hence it remains doubtful how much of a help local authorities will prove to be. Moreover, in Nepal, most data is still stored in paper with limited shelf-life. The cops, nevertheless, are asking for greater access to records maintained by metropolitan cities, telecommunication, immigration, transportation, customs, post offices, cargos and couriers and hotels authorities. There is a thin line between right to privacy and feeling spied on. People will consent to greater vigilance so long as that line is not breached.