Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Nepal Police’s Revolt: An example of state lawlessness, or the product of revolution?

Posted by n3wday on July 30, 2008

One of the well known signs of a true revolutionary crisis is that some of the most backward forces in society sometimes “catch the fever.” In Nepal there have been mutinies among the police rank-and-file against the terrible work conditions and haughty feudal treatment of their superiors. Kasama is publishing two articles on this.

The first article was provided by the Conflict Study Center

Nepal Police’s Revolt: An Example of State Lawlessness

Incident IV: Against the low quality food, rampant ill-treatment and discrimination not by others, but by their own seniors, about 500 Nepal Police rank and file seized the Riot Control Battalion and the Mid-western Regional Company at Nepalgunj (about 650 km west from Kathmandu) on July 12, 2008. They took seven-senior officers including one SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police), 3 SP (Superintendent of Police) and others hostage. Those hostages were identified as SSP Parsuram Khatri, Chief of Bheri Zone, SP Ghanashyam Bhatta, Chief of the Riot Control Battalion, and SP Akhtar Ali Ansari, Chief of the Mid-western Regional Company. The rank and file has put-forward a 20-point demand to the state. To make the officers’ captivity publicly known, the rebels fired 15 rounds onto the air from the Battalion premises. As the security and law and order providers themselves were involved in terrifying the people, Nepalgunj became tense on July 12th and 13th. Moreover, the agitating policemen warned surrounding pedestrians not to walk near the road. They barricaded the main gate with barbed wire, and shouted for action against the corrupt boss and administration.

Although the rebel police personnel freed all hostages after 36 hours of captivity, surrendering them in front of the Deputy Inspector General of Mid-Western Region at mid-night (0.00 hrs) on July 13, 2008, the emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday instructed the Home Ministry to take all necessary actions to release all those held captive. The Cabinet meeting ordered the Nepal Army to send its special commando force to bring the situation under control and to take necessary measures to avoid repeat of such incidents in the future.

Nepal police initiated disciplinary or legal action against four police personnel including the leader of the mutiny, Sub-inspector Bhan Bahadur BK, suspending them. They were produced at a press conference with handcuffs on the same day. All accused policemen appealed for mercy from senior police officers. Nineteen other officials may face action.

Incident III: The Probe Committee of the Regional Police Office in Pokhara recommended disciplinary action against 20 Nepal Police personnel of the District Police Office (DPO), Gorkha district (about 200 km east of Kathmandu). Those disciplined include chief of the DPO, a female DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) Gita Uprety on the charge of administrative carelessness on July 16, 2008. Of them, four are fired and three are demoted with the others facing various other penalties. The incident had occurred when an Assistant Inspector physically assaulted a Constable on June 19, 2008. The various ranks of police personnel staged a whole night long protest in front of DPO against the discrimination and impunity inside the office.

Incident II: About 300 disgruntled Armed Police Force (APF) of Bageshwori barracks at Shamshergunj, Banke district, revolted against bad-food, misbehavior and discrimination, beating battalion chief Harishankar Budhathoki and keeping over a dozen officers captive on June 21, 2008. The agitating forces padlocked the main gate, capturing all communication sets and telephone lines. They put-forward a 26-point demand letter to the Home Ministry the following day. On June 23, 2008, a High-Level Team lead by AIGP Narayan Raj Pandey and Joint Secretary Mod Raj Dotel of Home Ministry released all 17-hostages by signing a 22-point agreement with the displeased force, with an ultimatum to implement it within a month. The pact agreed to provide equal and decent food for all, pay medical expenses and CA poll allowances to all, etc. The pact agreed to punish the seniors who were involved in financial irregularities including the battalion in-charge. The most perplexing fact is that Budhathoki had received a reward for his excellent work from the government only last year, but one year later he was beaten by his own juniors. On the other hand, AIG Pandey himself accepted the fact that he had been involved in financial irregularities. As a result, the question has been raised: who were right, the juniors, APF Headquarters or Budhathoki? Meanwhile, a committee was formed under SSP Rajendra Bahadur Singh to investigate alleged irregularities. Both delegates, Pandey and Dotel, appreciated the move of juniors against the seniors and vowed to initiate stern action against the seniors. Such an initiative encouraged exploited juniors to move against the inequalities, injustices, and dictatorial rule of seniors across the country.

The government has established a three-member Police Special Court to investigate the rebellions of both Riot Control Police Battalion and Bageshwori Barracks. Canceling the three-week old pact signed by the Home Ministry, the police arrested 40 APF officials (excluding 14 who were home on leave) of Bageshwori Barrack who revolted against the illegitimacy of seniors on July 15, 2008. This government initiative raises a lot of doubts about the government. Is the government ready to comply with the agreements done with various stakeholders at various times? Or will it perpetrate a state of lawlessness?

Incident I: On June 18, 2008, disgruntled APF juniors beat up the Battalion Chief, Govinda Chhetri, and six other senior officials at 10.30 PM in Chandika Batallion, Parwat district. It was the first revolt in the eight-year history of the APF. They assaulted only those who were infamous for exploitation, discrimination, and harassment. The immediate cause of the beating was that Chhetri had, that same hot day, ill-treated a sick policeman who vomited blood later. The juniors’ demands were not different from the 20-point demand at Nepalgunj (see box). The investigation team of AIG Rohit Thapa, DIG Khoj Bahadur Gurung, etc. found the seniors guilty and transferred them somewhere else without disciplinary action. There is speculation that the commission is corrupt as it reached the top Headquarters through the police chain-of-command.

Politics is a principal policy of state, but the state is in confusion since the CPN (Maoist) became the largest party in the CA election with 38% of 601seats. The Maoists are trying to go ahead with a distinct vision, mission, and goal in the name of “New Nepal,” whereas the conventional forces are trying to stop this by creating hurdles in one way or another. The 40-point demand submitted by the Maoists on February 13, 1996 has almost been achieved by a combination of violent and peaceful political strategy of socialism. With the success of Maoists, all feudalist, semi-imperialist and capitalist forces have lost their patience and are trying to commit disruptions while ignoring the genuine political process of New Nepal.

Today’s urgent need is for cooperation, coordination and consensus of all mainstream political parties. But the UML’s proposal of Madhav Nepal, who was defeated in two constituencies for the CA, as the first president is again a product of feudal mindset against democratic norms, values and principles. It neither respects the popular mandate of CA nor the people’s desire for the first president to be from the indigenous nationalities, women, dalits and Madhes. The first elected president and vice-president both males from the Madhes region who occupies less than one-third (31%) population is again the injustice for 69 % population, hill and mountain and is against gender perspectives whose population is 51%.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court says that there is rampant corruption in the judiciary, but can not do anything to stop it. More than that, when journalists have published an article on corruption inside the judiciary, they have been received a penalty for it by the same accused justice . The Commission for Investigation of Abuse Authority (CIAA) files cases in the Appellate Court or Supreme Court against the alleged corruption of elites (leaders, bureaucrats, etc.), but it loses most of the cases. Is the public to believe that not only is the CIAA staff being influenced to let defendants win, but the defendants are influencing the court?

Security forces, including police, are government organizations charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order and protecting the public from harm and insecurity. But, who is accountable for the seniors misuse of state power and authority? There are no institutions that are not involved in corruption and misuse of power, politics, property and privileges in the country. Now, within Nepal there prevails wide lawlessness due to old mechanisms of state, active internal and external feudal forces, and a culture of impunity, corruption, favoritism and nepotism that flourished more as the new government could not form within 100 days of the CA election. The revolts within the Nepal Police and the APF were initiated by dissatisfactions standing for generations rather than any political bent. It is true that the people’s widespread consciousness, whether in remote hills-and-mountains, urban centers or in the Tarai (Madhes), is due to the decade-long People’s War. The Tarai’s desire for autonomy, Dalits’ desire for emancipation, indigenous nationalities’ demands of proportionate inclusion and 50% women’s participation in all state mechanisms were demands first raised by the Maoists in the course of proliferating their war strategy. If state institutions, including the security forces, do not want to change as per the desire of great majority juniors, high-intensity conflict is inevitable. Future high-intensity conflict disrupts but foreshocks for a Richter Scale-9 earthquake against the minor volcanoes incidents I to IV. Although even so, all have a duty to maintain their discipline and put forward their demands through proper channels by peaceful means, or by exercising trade union rights. The principal actors and the prime cause of revolts should not be overshadowed by the punishment of the juniors alone.

The twenty-point demands that they raised (see box) are applicable to all security forces across the country. The crux of the matter is that about 10 percent of junior levels in all security forces have been working as Ardalies (attendants) for high ranks, from sergeant and up. In spite of legal measures, Ardalies (even males) are compelled to work as private Ardaly at officers’ houses washing clothes including underwear, cleaning dishes, floors, and baby waste, cooking and so forth. Such Ardalies are deprived of enjoying their official leave as well as other rights. As a result, such revolts are occurring one after another across the country, as the seniors could not change their feudal mind-set and continued “disrespecting juniors voices, needs, and aspirations” even in this modern age. Indeed, the rank and file revolt in police is against bad food, irregularity and misbehavior.

Excerpts of 20-point demands submitted by the mutiny cops in Nepalgunj (July 13, 2008)
• Action to be taken against the culprits of financial irregularities and return of the money to the juniors. They had received just Rs. 1,470 for ration out of the allocation of Rs. 1,501 in the fiscal year 2064/065.
• The senior officers have received double ration, reducing the juniors ration.
• The police attendant neither received clothing nor did junior police take delivery of quality clothing on time from their boss. This is against the police act.
• The canteen in the Police Training Center has become a primary resource for seniors who sell to juniors at an increased rate.
• Nepotism and favoritism have been followed in transferring, promotion and reward rather than the basis of skill and seniority.
• Seniors select their near and dear ones for better income and professional training.
• Junior police did not receive transportation costs and daily allowances as per regulation when they were mobilized for the CA elections for April 10, 2008.
• Seniors have been drinking alcohol in front of all (outside the exercise hall) after physical exercise. They usually drink each Saturday and abuse the juniors.
• A written commitment not to have any departmental action against the mutiny or agitation, ensuring concession for their fired bullets, to be furnished.
• Transfer of the hostage chiefs within 24 hours.
• The provision of “the seniors may grant leave to juniors” in police act to be amended so that leave is their right instead of the seniors’ grant.
• A deep study to be done to remove anyone from the job.
• Stern action to be taken to the senior males officers they often involve into sexual amusement with junior females on luring temptations.
• To investigate financial irregularities done by seniors and its accountants in overall management.
• Stop political intervention at the Police institution as the seniors work under political leaders’ umbrella rather than police act.
• Stop misuse of vehicles and over fuels charge done in cooperation between chief and its accountant.
• Well manage human resources, water, toilets, etc. in exercise hall.
• Stop giving priority to send near and dear officials of seniors at UN and Haiti Mission.
• The previous grade to be continued even after the promotion.
• Dialogue to be held in the presence of IGP, Home Minister, central leaders of seven party alliance, human rights workers, and journalists.

Author: Bishnu Pathak PhD and edited by: Neil Horning
Assisted by: Chitra Niraula, Rushma Shakya, Rita Chaudhary, Man Pd. Neupane ‘Manish’, Ganga Puri and Meena Siwakoti

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