EDITORIAL: Crime and punishment

The legal actions taken by the police against politicians can help bring an end to criminalisation of politics

The recent crackdown on crimes involving high-profile politicians and influential persons in society shows that the Nepal Police is fully committed to maintaining law and order in society, and the general public has also backed these measures, which otherwise used to be a rare case in the past. It all started with the arrest of then Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara on charges of attempt to rape Roshani Shahi, an employee at the Parliament Secretariat. Mahara, who was arrested on October 6, is now in 13-day judicial custody till October 18 on the charge. NC leader and former minister Mohammad Aftab Alam, a NC lawmaker from Rautahat-2, was also arrested on October 14 for his alleged involvement in dumping 21 persons, who were injured in a bomb blast near his home at Rajpur Kharadawa, in a brick kiln alive on April 9, 2008, a day before the first Constituent Assembly election. Police had taken Alam into custody following the Supreme Court order to arrest him and start a fresh investigation into his role in killing them to cover up the accidental bomb blast. He is now in judicial custody for the murder charge. No sooner was Alam arrested than the police arrested Promod Sah, a lawmaker of Sarlahi-1 from the RJP-N, on October 15 from Tribhuvan International Airport for vandalising the Buddha Air counter in Janakpur the other day. He has also been taken into judicial custody for further investigation.

Besides, police have served a 35-day summons to Nepal Communist Party lawmaker Parvat Gurung, elected from Dolakha, in an attempt to murder Birdhoj Khadka, a former Maoist cadre, during the local elections held two years ago. Khadka was beaten up in Gausala, Kathmandu. In yet another crackdown on criminal offence, police on Wednesday arrested five persons, including, Bipendra Pradhan, CEO of Pulchowk-based Nidan Hospital, on charges of illegally transplanting a kidney on a patient. Police said the hospital management and doctors knowingly indulged in the illegal kidney transplant by producing a man from outside the relatives of the kidney patient. In yet another action, police fined Rs 50,000 on Ramesh Thapa, an NRN of Australia, for vandalising the immigration desk of TIA on Tuesday.

The actions taken by police show that the country’s law enforcement agency has the will to crack down on all kinds of crimes, no matter who the persons are, provided that the powers that be allow it to carry out its task independently and free from political interference. Alam’s arrest and a fresh investigation against his alleged involvement in the killing of the said people would not have been possible had the Supreme Court not given orders to reopen the case to establish the truth behind the gruesome murders. Law and order can be maintained in society when the law enforcement agency and court of law work in tandem. Good governance cannot be ensured without taking stern legal action against high-profile people, who, in most cases, themselves engage in crimes and also come forward to protecting their cadres indulging in criminal activities. The legal actions taken by the police against politicians and influential people in society can help bring an end to criminalisation of politics. Such acts will also discourage criminals from joining politics for personal gains.

Enhance food security

Statistics can be misleading. Nepal is said to have made significant improvement in addressing its hunger issues to achieve the zero hunger target set by the United Nations in 2000 aimed at reducing famine across the globe. True, Nepal does not require external food assistance, and no one has died of hunger in Nepal, otherwise there would have been a lot of hullabaloo in the media over it. But did we achieve zero hunger because the country grew enough food or is it because the fooding problem of nearly five million of our youths are taken care of by the countries where they work?

Instead of basking in its achievement, the Ministry of Agriculture would do well to introduce effective policies to step up food production in the country and minimise food insecurity. It makes little sense to be importing tens of billions of rupees worth of food, including the people’s staple diet, rice, annually, when we could be growing them ourselves. The right policy, timely availability of agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, commercialisation of agriculture and a market for the produce would cut imports greatly while improving food security in the country.