Nepal Police has been entrusted with the important responsibility of investigating the crime besides maintaining law and order situation across the country. Nepal Police is the first government agency which began serving the people by solving their daily life problems and investigating other big and small crimes they fall victims to. Nepal Police acts as a bridge between the government and the people. Nepal Police has a history of 100 years behind it right from the time of Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher to the present incumbent government. Nepal Police always remains in the center of national debate with regard to its role and other works of coordination with the common citizens. Bishwaraj Pokharel, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), who is also the spokesperson of Nepal Police, throws light on roles and responsibility of Nepal Police along with other challenges this police organization faces. DIG Bishwaraj is in conversation with Prashant Ojha for Khabarhub:
After a long time, Nepal Police has appointed a person of your stature as a spokesman of the organization. What roles do you envision for yourself in view of going for further expansion of public relationship and coordination with media organizations — both print and electronics?
Some years ago, a policeman of a DIG rank used to be appointed as spokesman of Nepal Police. Actually, this responsibility is more related with the right kind of talent in a perfect job than a rank thrust upon it. The job of a police spokesman is crucial in the sense that he projects the police image as people’s friendly by making the organization more accessible and approachable by using the media in different ways. My job is to apprise the people of all the activities our organization Nepal Police which undertakes to address their concerns, to collect all the complaints and suggestions of the people to finally forward all these to decision makers of Nepal Police. I act as a conduit.
Being a representative of the state, Nepal Police must be seen standing by the side of citizens in their activities of life. Citizens too expect the same from you. However, there are fair numbers of complaints in which citizens blame your organization to be intrusive in their private life and intervene in the personal activities of their life. How do you respond to these complaints of citizens?
Nepal Police is a big organization and misbehaviors of one or two policemen do not tarnish the image of the whole organization. This kind of extrapolation on our police organization is unwarranted. We are always ready to make supreme sacrifice for safeguarding the rights and interests of our people. We do not believe in encroaching upon the privacy of our citizens and interfere with their rights. Human weaknesses of a few policemen should in no way put a question mark on the government’s commitment to providing responsible and accountable governance. Many a time has corrected its course of action if any wrongdoing done by its policemen has been reported. After all, our organization is a human organization and like any other human beings, we make mistakes but are always ready to correct them. All the citizens know that the Nepal Police stand for citizens’ security. We also sacrifice our lives in the course of protecting the citizens and society. At the personal level, I may have committed mistakes but that does not make my organization – Nepal Police a tainted organization and by saying that citizens must not be provoked against Nepal Police. A personal weakness of police is corrected at a personal level.
At the political level, we have a stable government today. Citizens are complaining against the high-handed approach of the police personnel in dispersing the citizens protesting peacefully against the government. Nepal Police is acting in a much more brutal way. Have you been instructed by the government to suppress the citizens?
Nepal Police follows the laws of the land. Our organization has to ensure law and order situation across the length and breadth of the country. Nepal Police fully understands that citizens can hold different viewpoints on different issues and can come out in protest against the government on any issue. But, there are situations where citizens break the laws and turn violent. And, we have to step in because it falls under the realm of our public duty to maintain law and order in the country. We do not hesitate to take action against our own police personnel if he/she steps out of the stated role mentioned in police laws. Nepal Police has its own guidelines and organizational rules which are to be followed by every police personnel. If not, disciplinary actions are taken against the wrongdoers that may lead to suspension or even termination of the job.
Apart from maintaining law and order situation across the country, Nepal Police is also entrusted with the investigation of crime. However, accusations of police complicit in misleading the police investigation to protect the criminals have surfaced. In the recent past, some of the police investigations did not lead to either arrest of the accused or conviction in the court of law? Why is this so?
Yes, I accept it, there have been noticeable errors in the police investigation of crimes in the recent past. We have learned great lessons from them. However, it does not raise a question mark on the overall competency of the police organization to investigate the criminal cases successfully. We have investigated very complex and old crimes with all the success. We are proud of our achievements. Just recently, Nepal Police arrested an accused of a crime committed 19 years ago. Ranibari murder case accused was also arrested years later. Similarly, Barikhel crime accused was also arrested many years after the incident. I understand common people expect an immediate arrest in some of the cases; we too try our best because there is no point in deliberately delaying the arrest of the accused and botching up the police investigation of the crime.
Technological development of recent years has improved the convenience of the life of citizens but it has also complicated the police investigation. We are updating ourselves and we have formed a special unit to take care of the technical and technological aspect of crime investigation.
Nepal Police is still in practice mode on getting up-to-date in terms of modern technology whereas criminals are steps ahead of the police in the use of the latest technology. Why is this?
Science and technology require regular updating and practice. All of us are required to do it. Today’s technology becomes obsolete tomorrow. We are not weak in technology and we make it a part of our daily life. Technology falls in our priority within our own organization and even from political leadership has stressed more on its use in a criminal investigation.
What are the challenges ahead of you in areas of maintaining peace and order in the Nepalese society and how will you address them?
Nepal has gone up in the ranking of ‘World Peace Index’. Nepal is the third most peaceful country in South Asia, according to a study. It does not mean that there are no big challenges in Nepal in areas of maintenance of peace and order in the country. There are groups operating in the country which are a grave danger for the peaceful existence of the country; the government has already identified those groups and we are keeping our eyes on them. The group led by Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav) has posed a challenge before us. Nepal Police has been constantly keeping a vigil on the group’s activities and can go for even preventive arrests if credible threats arise. We nabbed them in a series of explosions conducted by this group in Kathmandu and prevented much bigger explosions in the process.
Organized crime is on the rise. Even Nepal Police accepts it. What is your future strategy to control and handle such crimes?
A new trend in crime is emerging. More than the organized crime, crimes within the confines of homes and other social crimes are rising. Erosion of family values has led to the increase in immoral crimes such as father committing rape on daughter and husband killing the wife. Out of all crimes of rapes and murders committed in Nepal, 79% of them are perpetrated by either close relatives or family members. Such cases cannot be reduced by just plain policing.
How much of the political interference Nepal Police faces?
The present government is stressing more on good governance which is not possible without maintaining transparency and accountability in day to day administration. The government has given clear instructions to all the organizations and agencies working under it to correct errors and improve the work environment. This is not political interference. Nepal Police makes it sure not to arrest a person on mistaken identity. If anybody who is involved with some social or political organizations get arrested by the police, the information of that arrest goes to concerned ministry and our political bosses know why a person in question has been in police arrest. Our power of investigation flows from the laws of the land and we follow the laws while we are on duty or investigating the crime. We don’t work for any particular individual and do not receive any instructions from anybody in private capacity.
Is your organization short of police personnel? A report says, Nepal Police still requires 75,000 constables on the ground.
There is an international standard on policing; on every 200 citizens, one policeman is needed. As per this standard, we are definitely short of police personnel. At present, one policeman is catering to 500 citizens. It is the same with logistics and physical infrastructure. Nepal Police struggle hard in far-flung areas and rural regions of Nepal as policing is very challenging and full of risks there. We get cut off from our head-office and other ‘government departments’ because communication technology does not work in such areas. The government is making attempts to improve upon physical infrastructure in these areas and communication technology is also getting better. Nepal Police is also bettering its policing technique in these areas.