EDITORIAL: Condemnable act

The Nepal Police must strive to develop professional skills to win the confidence of the general people

Were it not for the social media, the story of the merciless beating up of a 34-year-old woman – Hima Shrestha – would have gone unnoticed by the public, and the Nepal Police would not have taken any action against Police Inspector Devi Prasad Poudel from the Metropolis Police Range, Jawalakhel. The incident took place at Bhisepati Thursday afternoon when a group of women, including Hima, who was carrying her 10-month-old baby, went to the residence of an ex-Nepali Army official, Hem Khatri, to broker talks between him and his long-time mistress, Mala Shah. It is learnt that Khatri had extramarital affairs with her for 17 years. The army officer had lied to Shah that he was single. Shah had also filed a police case against Khatri on November 14 last year, stating that Khatri, who had been living with her for years, had gone out of contact six months ago. It is also learnt that Mala became pregnant a year ago, but Khatri persuaded her to abort the foetus. Following the incident, the Nepal Police has formed a three-member panel to probe into the case. The only action the Nepal Police has taken so far is Poudel, who beat up Hima, has been recalled to Jawalakhel from the Metropolitan Police Sector, Bhisepati.

The video, posted on the social media, shows Inspector Poudel brutally beating up Hima, who is seen clutching her baby in her arms when the police rained batons on her. The woman suffered bruises on her thighs and calves. She was even detained for several hours by the police and was freed only after office hours. After being released from detention, she went to Green City Hospital for a medical check-up where she is recuperating.

This is not an isolated case, where the police have gone berserk. There are several other incidents where the police have used excessive force to take the situation under control. In this case also, the police seem to have not followed even minimum restraint. Such a small number of women could have been easily escorted out of the ex-army man’s residence by policewomen to be assisted by policemen from nearby. The situation would not have turned from bad to worse had the police taken legal action against Khatri on the FIR filed by Shah for allegedly abandoning her. In this case, the police did not show restraint or use professional skills to tackle the situation. Before the police personnel are pressed into public service, they are trained for months on various ways of controlling a violent mob, made familiar with the basic principles of human rights and imparted moral education. On the other hand, police have also launched “community police service” and “police mero sathi” drives to win the trust of the general public. When the police personnel misbehave with women and even mercilessly thrash them for no reason, who is going to trust them? What can we expect from the Nepal Police when it cannot even handle such a minor incident without using excessive force? It also appears that there is a serious lapse in maintaining the chain of command inside the police organisation. The Nepal Police has taken action against a number of erring cops every year. But it has not been able to win the confidence of the people. Therefore, it is high time the Nepal Police worked hard to develop their professional skills by initiating drastic reforms from within.

Drug parcel

It is no secret that international drug traffickers have long tried to establish Nepal as a transit point, with drugs like heroin coming here from Afghanistan via Pakistan. Drugs that are smuggled into Europe, America and other countries include mostly heroin, opium and hashish. But with increasing surveillance, especially at Tribhuvan International Airport, India, with its extensive air links with Europe and the US, is starting to become a more attractive transit route for drugs arriving in Nepal.

Drug trafficking to Europe and America from Nepal is common. But in recent times, it has been reported that drugs originating in foreign countries are being smuggled into Nepal for local consumption, using unsuspecting channels. The Narcotics Control Bureau last week confiscated a parcel containing 930 grams of cannabis that arrived at the General Post Office at Dilli Bazaar from Canada. This points to the fact that there is a demand for drugs in Nepal, where their abuse by students is becoming cause for worry. The bureau now has the tough job of expanding its surveillance at the ill-equipped postal offices also while the police in foreign countries must do their job, too, to prevent drug trafficking.