Airport CCTV footage leak raises more queries than provides answersPolice say they’re unaware of how a singer’s security check video went into the public domain, but retired officials call it a deliberate leak and wrong practice.
Two days after a singer posted a video complaining about an airport security personnel's “misbehaviour”, CCTV footage of the said incident appeared on a number of online portals and then was swiftly shared on social media. In the footage, a female police officer is seen asking singer Astha Raut to take off her jacket and put it through the X-ray machine. The singer follows the order but looks animated. In the footage without sound, some verbal exchange between the policewoman and singer is apparent.
As soon as Raut posted her video, the internet was flooded with opinions. Until the footage came into the public domain, the singer had managed to garner some sympathisers. But the footage turned the tide, as many were quick to point out that the police officer on duty was just doing her job.
Questions, however, remain as to how the airport security check footage became public.
When asked, police officials said they were unaware and dismayed at the airport security clip getting into the public domain.
Senior Superintendent Ram Tripal Shah, chief of the Tribhuvan International Airport security office, said no one from his team had leaked the video.
“We cannot—we don’t—provide CCTC footage to the media; it is against the law,” Shah told the Post. “At times, we show CCTV footage to concerned complainants in case of loss of personal belongings. But it requires a meticulous procedure, including a written application from the complainant.”
He said he had no idea how the footage made it to the media.
Senior Superintendent Kiran Bajracharya at Metropolitan Police Office, Ranipokhari, said her department is investigating to find out how the footage was leaked.
“We too are shocked; we don’t know how the media managed to get hold of the clip,” Bajracharya told the Post.
Former police officials said the department officials’ claim is unconvincing and that the incident has raised more questions over the security agency’s handling of the situation.
A retired assistant inspector general, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the airport security footage could not have made it to the public domain unless it was leaked by an insider from the department.
“The police department’s action was reactionary,” the official told the Post. “There is no need for the security agency to prove that its personnel are doing their jobs just because someone posts a video or writes something on social media.”
Meanwhile, Constable Ramita Shrestha, who was involved in the security check at the airport, has filed a complaint against singer Raut at the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office, Ranipokhari. In her complaint, according to a police official, Shrestha says Raut exhibited “indecent behaviour” during a security check at the airport on Wednesday and demanded maximum punishment as per existing laws.
Deputy Inspector General Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, who is also the spokesperson for the Nepal Police, said after learning about Raut’s Facebook video, which was later pulled down, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office was asked to launch an investigation.
“The Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office is investigating the case,” Kshetri told the Post. “It is still unclear how the CCTV footage was leaked.”
Multiple former police officials the Post talked to, however, said that the leak was a deliberate attempt by the department to protect its image.
Nepal Police of late has been embroiled in controversies not only because of its failure to solve some prominent cases but also because of its way of dealing with the general public. Members of the public recently called out police officials’ behaviour when they baton-charged and beat up people, including a journalist, in front of Dashrath Stadium during the South Asian Games. People had also criticised the police department after security personnel resorted to rubber bullets, tear gas and countless baton charges on school students in Kohalpur in December.
A retired police official with expertise in investigations described the leak as an immature act by the police department.
“Leaking CCTV footage related to a case which was already under investigation is wrong and it raises more questions than provides answers,” Hemanta Malla, a former deputy inspector general, told the Post. “However, this is not the first time police officials have leaked evidence in their defence. Even in Aftab Alam’s case and Nirmala Panta’s case, they had leaked evidence. This is wrong practice.”