Security planmust address politics-crime nexus

KATHMANDU: Case I: An Armed Police Force patrol seized smuggled goods at Gaurigunj checkpoint along the Indo-Nepal border in Jhapa district in the first week of June. The next day, political activists and local traders shut down Gaurigunj bazaar to protest the APF’s ‘highhandedness’. The dispute was resolved only

after the APF apologised to the locals. Gradually, Armed Police Force is becoming a mute spectator to the smuggling of goods through the border point.

Case II: Acting on a tip-off, a police team led by a superintendent of police (SP) left for Koteshwor from Hanumandhoka to nab a gang

of most wanted criminals. The team reached the place in 15 minutes where the culprits were hiding but

they gave police the slip. Police, however, recovered a mobile phone from the area which had recorded the

last call from a telephone number of a Kathmandu police office. The criminals were informed about the raid immediately after the police team left its office.

Case III: After a week-long investigation, a local activist of the Nepal Tarun Dal in Ilam district was found to be involved in collecting

donation from the locals of Mechi zone in the name of a non-existent group, Red Commune. A police team reached his hometown a few days ago to arrest him but locals and the Nepali Congress activists blocked the road and forced the police team to return empty-handed.

These are only a few of the examples of how the country’s police force has been performing its duty. Locals blocked roads in Birgunj and Nepalgunj for hours just after the Home Ministry warned of stern action against those who block roads. People are

still reluctant to rely on

police for security.

The nexus between politicians and criminals, as well as the criminals’ well-developed links with the police, has hit efforts to maintain law and order the country, advocate Dr Yubraj Sangraula said. He added that moles in the police organisation was a serious matter.

Deputy Head of the Criminal Investigation Department of Nepal Police DIG Kuber Rana admitted that there were challenges in implementing the recently announced special security plan. Political commitment is a must to boost the morale of the police force, he said.

As kidnappings have become common in the capital, Nepal Police circulated a text message to all mobile phone users mentioning the newly set-up police hotline (16600141516/9849091139/01-4412748) to tackle fresh security threat. Armed Police Force has also provided two telephone numbers (01-4270553/01-4429297) to get information about the suspicious activities. The Home Ministry has also appealed

to all to report suspicious criminal activities. Concerned officials claimed that such initiatives will go a long way to help the security agencies control criminal activities in the country.

Impunity has increased and law enforcement agencies can’t function without the support of the people and cooperation of the

political parties. A superintendent of Armed Police Force highlighted the need to immediately end the nexus between the political figures and criminal elements. The officer said the presence of army officers on the APF’s team undermined the APF. DSP Ajay Chhatkuli said the APF was committed to serve the people on the orders of the government.

The total strength of the country’s security forces is 165,000 — Nepali Army: 92,000; civilian police: 48,000; and Armed Police Force: 25,000. The government has allotted Rs 14.74 billion budget for the police force in this fiscal year. Of

the total sum, Rs 4.4 billion will go to the APF. In the last fiscal, only Rs 7.88 billion was earmarked for the police while the demand was for Rs 11.48 billion.

Besides the national budget, the donor agencies have also been providing assistance to the police force under different projects. The US government, through its office of transition initiatives had launched a project of $348,480 that aimed to promote effective and democratic governance.

The project mainly focussed on exploring the possibility of establishing community policing initiatives to strengthen the relationship between the police and the communities, encourage solidarity, and ultimately have a positive impact on development programmes.