Criminal intentThe decision to transfer top cops probing corruption scams is aimed at protecting corrupt leaders.
After months of claiming to conduct unbiased investigations, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government is finally showing what it really is—a friend, rather than a foe, of corruption. What else explains the government’s decision to transfer top police officers in the middle of investigations into high-profile corruption cases such as the fake Bhutanese refugee scam? The government on Sunday went against its commitment and transferred five Assistant Inspector Generals (AIG), including Shyam Gyawali, the chief of the Kathmandu Valley Police, who had led the investigation into the refugee scam. The other AIGs transferred include Deepak Thapa, who replaces Gyawali, along with Tek Prasad Rai, Sandeep Bhandari and Meera Chaudhary. The Nepal Police Headquarters, which is authorised to transfer senior superintendents (SSP), also has separate plans to change the stations of six SSPs looking into the refugee scam.
The transfers come after apparent pressure from Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, who has been handicapped by the arrest of his trusted lieutenant Bal Krishna Khand. It is no coincidence that there have been constant calls for investigations into the involvement of Deuba’s wife, Arzu, who was named in at least one audio tape as a major player taking crores in bribes. Meanwhile, Dahal, the prime minister, has proven that he is just a coy “yes man”, as his longevity in the prime minister’s chair depends on the generosity of the Congress, which is the largest party in the parliament and in the current coalition government. The fact that the transfers were made against the wishes of Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha suggests the extent of pressure the Congress put on Dahal. Shrestha, who has shown firm commitment, at least publicly, to punish everyone involved in the crimes, is learnt to have run from pillar to post to stop the transfers, apparently in a quest to keep his image as an anti-corruption strongman intact.
The untimely transfer of the police officers shows that the security establishment has become a puppet at the hands of the top political leaders who cannot see beyond their self-serving goals. It has also shown that the politicians go to any extent to camouflage their crimes, or the crimes committed by their near and dear ones. Their commitment to the rule of law and fight against corruption falls flat when they commit acts that are nothing less than treachery against the state. This is a sure-shot way of antagonising the public which is already looking for alternative political outfits that show a firm commitment to obliterating corruption. There cannot be a bigger crime in governance than to transfer police officers that are investigating grave crimes. Clearly, top leaders of political parties are involved in these crimes.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to spare two former prime ministers from appearing before the Central Bureau of Investigation even after the Supreme Court’s order to investigate them. The Supreme Court had earlier this month ordered the government to probe policy decisions of the Council of Ministers, paving the way for a fresh investigation into the possible involvement of the former prime ministers Baburam Bhattarai and Madhav Kumar Nepal. The top party leaders have complained of judicial activism when the top court made decisions against their convenience. However, when the executive fails to carry out its duty, the judiciary must rise to the occasion, and that is exactly what the apex judicial body did. The government should stop such a brazen display of highhandedness to save a few of its cronies from punishment. People are watching.