Security fear looms large

KATHMANDU: Perceptions of security don’t give a very positive picture of policing in Nepal. A recent survey carried out by Interdisciplinary Analysts and Saferworld “On track for improved security?” indicates that people are less convinced of the state’s capacity to provide security.

Everyday affairs like political wrangling and tussle over power-sharing are making people lose faith in the state and have lesser optimism about the country moving in the right direction. Some of the representative comments from the survey read like these:

“I am not satisfied with the roles of government bodies, because government security bodies have not been able to reach remote places; they are centred in headquarters or developed places. And even if any security bodies are present, arrested criminals are freed due to pressure from the political parties.”— Limbu female, 31, Tehrathum

“Due to the absence of proper government, the entire administrative machinery has become defunct as a consequence of which the government has been unable to deliver essential public services.” — Magar male, 29, Myagdi.

However, the police point fingers at politics. Says one police officer in the Armed Police Force : “We can’t act promptly because we don’t get orders, both written and verbal, from above. Without clear orders from above, we can’t take actions. If we take action at the wrong target, who will take responsibility? That is why we need a government to back us. But at the moment, we feel that we don’t have a government, and we don’t have the mandate, and things are highly politicised.”

Despite the unwillingness of the people to go to the police for security, they still haven’t lost faith in the ability of the police force to protect society against crime. People thought the police were still the most effective security institution. About 70 per cent of the people said the police were at least moderately effective. Village Development Committees and municipalities are other institutions the people still believe in. According to the survey, “The people still put their trust in the state security sector, even if they are sometimes critical of its overall capacity.”

According to the survey, there are still a lot of people (44 per cent) who believe that the Maoists and its Young Communist League cadres play a role in protecting society from crime. However, compared to 2007, the number of people who say they will first turn to police for assistance has grown by eight per cent. “This suggests that support for the police and other official agencies is rising. But there is still a very significant proportion of Nepalis who would not turn to the police in order to address their security concerns,” adds the survey.