For the record: Govt to take legal measures to tame
An emergency cabinet meeting today evening decided to take every possible legal measure to bring the situation at the Nepalgunj based Riot Control Police Battalion under control. The cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Baluwatar directed the Home Ministry to tame the situation at Nepalgunj police battalion where seven police personnel are being held hostage by junior police personnel since yesterday, said a minister who attended the meeting. The meeting also ordered the ministry to make necessary arrangements to maintain discipline in all the security bodies, remain alert to avert such incidents in the future and to take the incident under control at the earliest.
A meeting of top security officials of both the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force this afternoon hinted at adopting stern measures against such incidents. Other ranks police personnel of Nepalgunj Riot Control Police Battalion have taken seven police personnel, including senior police officers, hostage protesting what they called economic exploitation and indecent behaviour by their officers.
Nepalgunj announced ‘tense area’
Nepal Police and Armed Police surrounded the Riot Control Police Force-Nepalgunj and the Mid-western regional Armed Police Force battalion today to rescue the seven police personnel, including officers, held hostages and to control the disturbances in Banke district. Banke district administration has announced the surrounding areas extending till 500 km around the battalion office as a ‘tense area’. More than 200 police officers have been deployed at Dhamboji chowk and Puspalal chowk for security reasons.
The agitating police, who had launched the movement with 29-point demands, have deducted their demands to 20-points protesting against the high-level officers who exploited them economically and demonstrated indecent behavior. Leader of the agitating police squad Assistant Police Inspector Dhan Bahadur Bika said that they will only hold talks with the Home Minister, the head of police personnel, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) central leaders, the reporters and the human rights activist. According to security authorities, the battalion has been surrounded to control the agitating police officers from escaping and to let them surrender.
Meanwhile, a chopper of Nepal Army was also making aerial patrol around the incident site. Seven police men including Police chief for Bheri zone Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Parshuram Khatri, Police chief for Banke district SP Ghanashyam Bhatta, Riot Police Team chief SP Akhtar Alim Ansari and chief of Mid-Western region Police Training Centre-Nepalgunj SP Sudip Acharya have been held captive within the office of Riot Control Team of Nepal Police, leader Bika, informed. The firing had taken place on Friday and Saturday morning at around 10 following a dispute among the police personnel.
Police rebel against ‘ill-treatment’/SSP, 3 SPs among 8 hostages
In yet another rebellion against what is claimed to be “rampant ill-treatment and discrimination”, over 500 police personnel seized the Riot Control Battalion and the Mid-western Regional Company of Nepal Police at Puspalal Chowk, Nepalgunj Municipality in Banke district, Saturday (12 July) afternoon. The rebelling police also took eight senior officers hostage. Nepalgunj area remained tense as the rebel police fired over 15 rounds into the air from the battalion premises and the rooftops of nearby houses. Those taken hostage include police chief of Bheri zone Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Parshuram Khatri, Banke police chief SP Ghanashyam Bhatta, chief of the Riot Control Battalion SP Akhtar Alim Ansari and chief of Mid-western Regional Company SP Sudip Acharya.
The senior police officials had apparently gone to the battalion complex for morning exercise. The agitators, after barging into the area, fired shots into the air and took them captive. Some of the police officials were reportedly assaulted. Three persons including a tennis player and a retired police officer, who were there during the incident, were released after four hours in captivity.
The disgruntled policemen warned the general public and journalists not to walk the nearby road. Journalists were also barred from taking pictures. Many policemen were seen shouting slogans against their seniors at the main gate of the battalion premises.
Sub-inspector Dhan Bahadur BK, who is leading the agitation, said the senior officers were being held hostage on charges of providing low quality food to the rank and file, involvement in rampant corruption, financial exploitation of juniors and misuse of resources. “You will gradually learn what our demands are,” he said. BK also warned journalists not to write anything against them. According to him, they will not release the captive officers until their 29-point demand is met.
Later, the agitating policemen also took the captive officers to Bheri Zonal Hospital to test them for “sobriety” and said action would be taken against those found to be intoxicated. For the purpose, they “seized” the hospital for over an hour and also closed the main gate till the hostages were taken back to battalion premises. The locals claimed that they heard some gunshots on Friday night also.
NHRC expresses concern over Nepalgunj mutiny
Expressing its concern over the incident at the Nepalgunj based Riot Control Police Battalion the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Sunday advised the government to bring the situation under control at the earliest. The commission has also recommended legal measures to maintain the chain-of-command and discipline in the police administration. In a letter to the Prime Minister’s office today, the NHRC said a peaceful environment must be maintained to safeguard lives and property with the minimum of force.
This is not the first revolt in a police organization: In similar manner on June 21, over 200 Armed Police Force (APF) personnel of the Bageshwori Battalion at Shamsergunj in Banke district had revolted in protest against poor quality rations and ill-treatment by seniors. They had also beaten up then APF battalion chief SP Harishankar Budhathoki and other senior officers including three DSPs and taken over a dozen senior personnel into captivity. Later, the agitation ended after a team from the Home Ministry held talks with them and pledged to take action against the seniors involved in “irregularities and misbehavior” as per the report of a probe committee. Both the senior Home Ministry officials and APF top brass had praised the rebelling APF men, with one very senior APF officer even “congratulating” the rebellious APF men for their “courage”.