It’s our road tooBut on Saturday, a video clip of a zigzagging Armed Police Force vehicle broadsiding a scooter surfaced on social media, prompting the Twitterati to ask authorities to take action against the driver and find out which VIP the vehicle was tailing as part of a security arrangement.
Everyone has a fundamental right to use a public road. There is no reason for vehicles with flashing lights or those carrying VIPs to get precedence over others. But on Saturday, a video clip of a zigzagging Armed Police Force vehicle broadsiding a scooter surfaced on social media, prompting the Twitterati to ask authorities to take action against the driver and find out which VIP the vehicle was tailing as part of a security arrangement. Turns out, it was Lokendra Bahadur Chand—the ex-prime minister’s security car.
In the clip, the vehicle, with registration number Ba 1 Jha 9527, is seen overtaking a bike on the left side before making a sharp right turn—just as it is passing a scooter and car—and in doing so, slams into the two-wheeler. Obviously, the scooter rider lost his balance and both driver and pillion passenger fell. There was only a bike right behind them which managed to stop just in the nick of time. But the police vehicle continued driving, unmindful of what could have been a major accident.
Indiscriminate use of power to place VIPs in a high dignitary category is an apparent abuse of power. And when power is misused, as is evident in the video, it runs riot against ordinary citizens. Superintendent of Police Jay Raj Sapkota, who is also the spokesperson for the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, said he would take necessary action against the driver; but these words almost mean nothing most of the time. When it comes to nabbing offenders, officials cannot be snoozing anymore.
On March 5, a frustrated group of people forced their way en masse through a police roadblock set up to close the route for President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s motorcade to travel from Bhadrakali to Sheetal Niwas via Lainchaur. The authorities were testing the public’s patience when the roadblock wasn’t cleared for over 40 minutes after the motorcade had passed, even as the line of waiting motorbikes and cars grew a kilometre long. No so-called dignitaries should be given the privilege of announcing their exalted status on the road by sporting flashing lights and making the public suffer unnecessarily or by driving waywardly.
The culture of entitlement is asserted in many ways. Although the country’s law mandates every individual to go through security at airports, most VIPs and VVIPs conveniently avoid pat-downs. While accessing government services, they readily jump the queue at government offices. These acts publically enforce a subject-ruler separation.
To meaningfully begin dismantling Nepal’s VIP culture, a lot needs to be done. From security forces not succumbing to power and doing their duty sincerely to bureaucrats doing their job without any political interest in mind. As a country, a culture of inequality and hierarchy, based especially on social and economic standing, has been inconsiderately perpetuated over the years. But it is imperative for all citizens to be treated at par. Abuse of power cannot become the norm.