Police gone wildCops are brutalising the people they have sworn to serve
Published at : September 19, 2018
Updated at : September 19, 2018 12:30
The fact that the Nepal Police are oblivious to their job description—to protect lives and provide security to Nepali citizens—is evident in the way their actions have been imperilling the lives of the public. Barely two months ago, they unleashed brutal violence in Jumla—on hospital premises, no less—while trying to bring agitating orthopaedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC back to Kathmandu. Around the same time, a rally led by Tarun Dal, the student wing of the Nepali Congress, turned violent after police fired teargas shells following clashes with the protesters, leaving scores injured.
Most recently, in Kanchanpur, the police used force and opened fire—killing one and injuring 24—when protestors rightly came out in droves following the yet-unresolved rape and murder case of Nirmala Pant. What’s more, it’s not just force the Nepal Police has been using frequently; there are also reports of the police subjecting suspects to extreme torture.
The arbitrary use of force in the garb of ‘controlling’ the situation points to an alarming rise of police brutality in the country. Being an arm of the state, the actions of the police reflect the character of the state itself and the government of the day. Although in a modern state, the monopoly of using violence ‘legitimately’ rests on the government, citizens of a democratic country must resist and challenge the institutional violence that is being perpetuated against them.
Nepal is a constitutional democracy, founded on the basis of respect for the fundamental rights of the people. Freedom to assemble, freedom of expression and freedom to voice discontent are the basic rights of citizens. It does not bode well for a democracy when the police deem almost any gathering as an opportunity to suppress criticism and misuse power. Instead of being more restrained in the excessive use of force, the police are doing just the opposite.
The police are not a law unto themselves, and they cannot act with little regard for the law. The more they forget this, the greater the civic discord that will flow from it. If the police are not held to constitutional standards, it will endanger the public. Moreover, this indisputably unconstitutional practice remains unchallenged by politicians who want to soft-pedal or even ignore police misconduct. The politicians of today were once victims of police brutality themselves; but perhaps riding high on the hubris of having a two-thirds majority, they seem to have forgotten this. While maintaining law and order is important, it is imperative that the ones who make them follow it too.
The high-handedness of the police is also reflective of the arrogance of the current government. It needs to understand that no regime can succeed by beating up protestors or by even shooting them. Clearly, the people did not elect the current two-thirds strong government to abuse its power. The sooner the government comes back to its senses the better.