Pervasive insecurity

The country is moving toward a state of pervasive insecurity. The gall showed by the killers during Jamim Shah’s shooting in the heart of Kathmandu last week indicates that professional criminals have no respect for the security agencies. The incident demonstrated several lapses, and with them, Nepal Police has suffered another dent in its image. The police should normally react to an incident within 5-10 minutes of an incident, cordon off key areas and start search operation. The government stepped up vigilance only a day later, but it was too late. The police now reveal that the killers gathered at the premises

of Dairy Development Corporation, less than 200 meters from the crime scene, for almost three hours after the incident and escaped from the Valley through Thankot. Although there was heavy

presence of police personnel for the Vice President’s oath-taking ceremony, they were inefficient in carrying out post-incident counter action. Visibility of

police personnel, the incident showed, is not synonymous with security.

Partly, the inefficiency stems from increased politicisation of the police force. The Nepal Police, as an institution, has lost control over hiring, promotion and transfer of its staff. It is now the Home Ministry and the political nexus that determine staffing and promotion of personnel in key positions. The institution is becoming corrupt and criminal groups, as revealed by the Jamim incident, lure many of its staff. The whole thing is unfortunate because, when it comes to controlling crime, it depends on the police without uniforms, the plainclothes investigators. The police are supposed to keep a tab on criminal activities and identify criminal interest groups. The CID, since the last 10 years, has

not seen an increase in staffing despite a boom

in Kathmandu’s population. The government is

only talking about improving the security system, and not really doing anything about it. The crime

investigation bureaus in the police headquarters have remained inefficient.

The government has developed a new security plan. However, given the political and bureaucratic structure, the security plan has ended up as ambient policing-the people “see” many police on the streets and in communities, but there is little depth to the policing activities. As a result, there is real danger that the state could end up trampling the rights of minorities and smaller groups, and fail to give enough recognition to building relations with ethnic groups and minorities. Civil police force should remain the mainstay of Nepal’s security arrangement; however, there are clear indications that the government is giving priority to visibility over depth. Civil police force, as well as the Special Police Department, are highly politicised while their institutional development is ignored. The government, in recent days, is attempting to deliver “security” through greater visible policing, but it has only made security a pervasive feature of society. The focus, rather, should be on providing deep policing, where the state depends more on its ability to mediate conflict and deliver justice. For this, the government needs to put greater faith on civil police. The Jamim incident highlights the urgency of reforms in our security institutions.

Making inroads

The highway that would link the central hills east and west is expected to be constructed a year ahead then originally scheduled by the end of the next fiscal year. This road would connect 25 districts of the country and would be 1,700 kilometers long. High hopes are pinned on this highway as it would enable the products of remote regions to reach the market in bigger cities besides accelerating the pace of development. Nepal is largely an impoverished country lacking the necessary physical infrastructure to enhance the quality of life of its peoples.

What is good news about this project is that there

is no dispute about the route that the highway

would take at the local level. Thus, there is every

reason to hope that the road will be constructed

on the time slated. Meanwhile, there are many

other roads that could not see the light of the day because of lack of funds. However, this would likely not be the case with the hill highway as provisions have been made for the allocation of funding. Furthermore, donors are also being sought so that the road could be black-topped.