The government should assure the people that necessary arrangements are there so that the voters can exercise their franchise without fear
The tempo is building up for the local level elections to be held on May 14. There are skeptics who believe that they will not be held; however, most parties in the ruling coalition and in the opposition are dead set for holding the elections no matter what.
So that the polls may be held in a free, fair and impartial manner, the security agencies will be playing a key role in ensuring that nobody will dare disturb the election being held in a gap of 20 years.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has instructed all the heads of the security agencies to ensure that there is the required security for the polls.
The Prime Minister had summoned the chiefs of the Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, Nepal Police and the National Investigation Department to discuss the security for the polls and how to deploy it in the best possible manner.
For that matter, the heads of the security agencies assured the Prime Minister that all the preparations for providing security for the polls had already been completed.
It is learnt that the heads of the security agencies had told the Prime Minister that the overall security situation in the country was normal and conducive to the holding of the polls.
They also assured him they would be able to maintain security for the long awaited polls.
The government has decided to mobilize the security agencies, including the Nepal Army, during the elections. As per the present arrangements, the Nepal Army would be deployed in the third security ring beyond the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force in all the polling centers.
Allocations of Rs. 30 billion rupees have been made for the security arrangements. Moreover, the Ministry of Home Affairs has already hired around 75,000 temporary police to ensure adequate security during the polls.
The Election Commission has opened a Joint Election Operation Centre at its head office.
This will consist of senior officers of all the security agencies, the MoHA and the Ministry of Defense and official of the EC that would coordinate with the security agencies that would enable those dealing with the security to take the decisions about the security for polls.
Meanwhile, the integrated security plan will also deal with sensitive and highly sensitive municipalities and rural municipalities. The Nepal Army, if required, could be mobilized in the second or first ring and they could be deployed if the situation in the polling centers deteriorates.
As the date for the local elections is approaching, the government should assure the people that all the necessary arrangements have been made so that the voters can exercise their franchise without fear and coercion.
And no conflicting statements should come from leaders of the government or any coalition party regarding the holding of the polls.
This security assurance comes at a time when the agitating coalition of Madhesi and Janajati parties have announced that they would be holding protests to thwart the elections.
They say their programme includes nationwide strikes to disrupt the elections. Therefore, it calls for guaranteeing that the elections would be peaceful.
Given that the local level election is the first vital step towards the implementation of the present constitution, the protesting outfits should also preferably reach a compromise so that the polls are held in a free and fair manner without any intimidation.
Perks for Rautes
For the first time, the government has decided to issue citizenship certificates to the Rautes, the nomadic community mostly living in forests of mid and far-western hills.
The Home Ministry has directed the concerned district administration offices to issue such papers to the Rautes who live within their domains.
The decision to this effect was taken after the Department of Civil Registration under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development reminded the government that Rautes were deprived of social security grants due to lack of legal documents.
The Rautes living in the mid and far-western hills have not been able to collect the allowances as they could not produce the papers required for the benefit announced by the government.
An estimated 650 Rautes are living in scattered settlements in Karnali and Mahakali zones while around 150 others are still living a nomadic life hunting wild animals and selling wooden utensils for their livelihood.
The government has announced to provide Rs. 1000 to each Raute per month under the social security allowance.
A version of this article appears in print on April 20, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.