EDITORIAL: Bring culprits to book

It is best the police stay away from situations they were not trained for and allow competent agencies to handle them

Three persons, including a police inspector, were killed in a bomb explosion in Chhireswornath Municipality in Dhanusha district Friday night, an incident that could have been largely avoided if only common sense had prevailed. According to reports, the police inspector, Amir Dahal, had set off the pressure cooker bomb planted at the gate of the house belonging to a local, Rajesh Sah, with a stick instead of waiting for a bomb disposal unit of the Nepal Army to arrive on the scene. There are speculations that the inspector might have thought the bomb hanging from the door handle was a hoax, but his foolhardiness not only took the lives of the house owner and his son but also injured three other members of Sah’s family and a policeman. The father and son duo had died on the spot while the inspector died on the way to hospital. What is particularly sad is that the very person who had called the police to report about the bomb should die in the explosion. There is little doubt that carelessness on the part of Inspector Dahal led to the tragic accident.

As per reports, an unidentified person had informed Rajesh about the IED (improvised explosive device) by telephone, but it is not known who could possibly have planted it in his house. But the police have made some arrests on suspicion that the IED might have been planted by cadres of the outlawed Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), led by Netra Bikram Chand. The party’s cadres have been involved in such nefarious activities in the past - setting off bombs in communication giant Ncell’s offices and towers and in extorting money from teachers and civil servants in the countryside - but the CPN has not owned up to the incident. The deceased, Rajesh, owned a pharmacy and is said to have been lending money to locals at exorbitant interest rates, of upto 36 per cent. Could this have been a reason for targeting Rajesh? Whatever the reason, planting a bomb in someone’s house with the intention of destroying life and property, if need be, is a condemnable act.

The Dhanusha incident should be an eye opener to the police force about how not to deal with sensitive safety matters. Many a times, police folly or highhandedness has only aggravated a situation, as was the case last week in Kohalpur in mid-west Nepal, after a truck hit an 11-year-old girl about to enter school, crushing both her legs. The police need better training to enhance their skills in dealing with different circumstances. It is best they stay away from situations they were not trained for – in this case disposal of bombs - and allow competent agencies to handle them. Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa has vowed to act tough and bring the culprits involved in planting the bomb to book. The people will be watching how soon he does this. Although there has been an improvement in the law and order situation over the years with the writing of the new constitution in 2015, there are some political groups that have refused to join mainstream politics, instead resorting to intimidating tactics to push their agenda through. It is time the Home Ministry acted tough against them so that people feel safe and secure in the society.

Bicycle lanes

Cycling is a good exercise. An hour of cycling a day keeps a person physically fit and healthy. However, the Kathmandu Valley does not have dedicated lanes for cyclists along the major thoroughfares. During the local level elections, all the political parties had promised to make all the municipalities of the Valley bicycle-friendly. However, they have failed to keep their promises. Some sections of the city areas have seen declared bicycle-friendly, but they are unsafe for the bicycle users.

Marking the 25th anniversary of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) on Saturday, the city mayor, Bidhya Sundar Shakya, vowed to introduce cycle lanes in major parts of the city in the near future.

In 2014, the government had declared both sides of the Maitighar-Tinkune road segment as dedicated cycle lanes. But they are now used as footpaths. The KMC must coordinate with the Department of Roads (DoR) if it wants to develop cycle lanes in the city areas as DoR is the sole agency to take care of them. Once some sections of the roads are dedicated to cycle lanes, none else should be allowed to use them. The traffic police must make sure that the cycle lanes are used only by the cyclists, not by motorcyclists and others.