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By Bishnu Pathak and Devendra Uprety
7. Community-Police Relation (CPR)
When we talk about SSR in Nepal, it is essential to briefly introduce CPR, which is taken as the prime component of security institutions in post–conflict period. The organizational structure of Nepal Police was designed by an officer of the Indian police commission who had come to Nepal in 2009 BS as police advisor (Rai, 2008). The Nepal Police, in tern, inherently influenced by colonial structure of India39 that put the whole police structure under the grip of a small elites group, who do not bother about people’s need. Instead, instead try to maintain their power by whatever means possible. The grip of high-caste group is so strong that the police have failed to acquire faith and support from grass root and marginalized people. The marginalized and non-elite have always complained about the discrimination and based approach of the state towards them.
Nepal Police is established to maintain, law and order and security in the country. The first Rana prime minister Jung Bhadur Rana first set up the police structure to maintain social security and established law and order in society. He set up three polices stations in Birathnager, two in sapateri and one in Mohotarai and all of them headed by lieutenants [Nepal Praharaiko Itihas (The History of Nepal Police)]. After the downfall of Rana regimes in 1951, the police headquarter was established to be headed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP). However, Nepal Police was instituted in 1952 primarily consisting of the Mukti Sena the than ex-combatants of Nepali congress with a basic motto of ‘truth, service and security’. For this reason, it was intended to strengthen community-police relation despite several deficiencies prevailing within the system. However, following the royal coup of 1960, Nepal Police began to serve the interests of zonal commissioners.40 With the enactment of the Police Act in 1955, the foundations for the modern civil police force were created.
Nepal Police has long been working under pressure from power centers such as political leaders, elites, bureaucrats and technocrats. A study shows a severe discrimination in the police service that a majority, of 96% of respondents said that the structurally marginalized people were more discriminated by the police in compared to high castes/ethnic-status people.Nepal Police seems more prejudiced against Dalits.
History shows that police as an institution is identified as a series of serving the interests of specific elite groups that justified the suppressing the democratic revolutions of 1950, 1980, 1990 and 2006; and it known as the repression instrument of government.43 After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the ruling political party/parties manipulated and victimized Police institution as their own sister-organization. As a result, people have lost their trust upon police investigation and their justice system. Despite the restoration of democracy in 1990 and the endorsement of the then constitution, the police seems to have failed to respond to the change as Chandra D. Bhatta writes:
“…over the years, there has been a crisis of confidence in the police. This is partly because many have suffered from police brutality,… corruption … inefficient policing practices…. police force has been overtly misused by ruling elites for their own interests…. in Panchayat period …the police were used to stifle opposition to the ruling authority. At the dawn of democracy in 1990 the police force was one of the most hated institutions in the country.”
On the other hand, some personnel within the institution are also responsible in politicizing the institution for their personnel interests.
However, Nepal police has been working in adverse circumstances. Taking a recent report of Altus Global Alliance (an international network of working on the behave of global safety and justice) and Conflict Study Center Nepal that has arranged Police Stations Visitors Weeks 2009 first time in Nepal reveals the severity both in public service and infrastructural shortcomings of Nepal police. During this project, (ten teams) 40 local citizens has visited ten police stations to assess the five dimensions of policing system: community orientations, physical conditions, transparently and accountability, equal treatment, and detentions conditions. Visitors feel that Police have been working within a pathetic physical condition. The detention condition and transparency and accountability are unsatisfactory.
8. Agenda of Inclusion, Democratization of NA and Professionalization of PLA
At the threshold of the restructuring the nation, the issue of proportionate representation of different castes/ethnicities, genders and regions have been a common demand in all sociocultural segments along with the national security institutions. To address this demand, House of representation has proclaimed on may 18, 2006 that formation of the Nepalese Army shall be inclusive and national in nature.46 Ram Baran Yadav, the President of republic
of Nepal was born in Madhes who is the Supreme Commander in Chief (SCIC) of the Nepal Army. It is the first time who holds the army command from Madhes in Nepal since the time of unification. The historical process of marginalization of Madhes and other caste and ethnicities in national security forces [(Royal) Nepal Army and Nepal Police] had started with losing Malla dynasty in Valley. Approximately 244 years ago during unification of the small warring states, Prithvi Narayan Shah defeated the Sen dynasty Kings of Madhes and then won Kathmandu valley. When Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1774 attacked Kathmandu, Jaya Prakash Malla had 12,000 strong mithila army that was known as Tirhoot army. Prithvi Narayn demolished the Tirhoot army upon conquering it. Then, recruitment to Madhesi in army had been stopped and it had been continued in the later regimes furthermore till now.
Madhesi has felt as an insult as they could not have included in the national security force, the army. In 1816, the colonial British army defeated Nepali forces on the support of the then few landlords in Madhes. The Madhesi were then labeled ‘followers of British and adversary of Nepali’ and stopped to recruit into the army. However, Nepal army states that lesser degree of inclusion seems to be the lack of interest on the part of Madhesi communities to join military services.
Historically, among various castes and ethnic communities Chhetri clan (Thakuri) had been prioritized in national army; they were known as the most believable and a warrior force for Chettri kings. They had rule before the announcement Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Besides, Magar, Newar, Rai, Gurung, Damai, Gharti/Bhujel, Thakuri, etc. are also over representation compared to their respective population. Bahun, Tamang, Kami, Limbu, Sarki, and Tharu are slightly under representation. It is to be understood that even Indian Government never recruited Taraian-Madhesi in its Indian Gorkhas including the British Gorkhas. Before the policy of inclusion introduced in Nepal, Nepal Army had prioritized to Magar, Gurung, Tamang, Kiranti/Limbu and Madhesi communities which was 3950 in number with 4.4 % of current strength. Nepal army has faces great problem in Gender inclusion.
Democratization of NA and professionalizing PLA has taken crucial agenda of peace process in Nepal that has been heightened memo in political spectrum in Nepal. The Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 has assured democratization of the Nepal Army and professionalization of the Maoist Army, but this has not been implemented yet due to over politicization to both the institutions. There is a debate over who politicized the forces. The Maoists say that the Army has been conducting politics in the name of maintaining discipline and professional ethics, while the anti-Maoist forces insist that the rejection of the elected government’s orders was not against democratic norms and values, but it was to protect the integrity of Nepal Army and save it from being further politicized. However, the democratization of the NA and the professionalization of the MA should be the prime agenda of today’s Nepal for the sake of concluding the peace process and forming a new constitution.
9. Culture of Militarization, Growing Trends of Militancy and DDR/SSR
The culture of militarization (CM) is intensified due to the growing trends of militancy and militarism in Nepal. The culture of militarization encourages military control over social life and processes. In Nepal, Various armed forces have emerged and the process of militarization has been widespread in a society that upholds military values as superior to that of civilian values. Sociopsychologically, armed groups feel superior to the civilian in conflict and post conflict time. Dhruba Kumar writes that Nepal is a microcosm of militancy and militarism. The ongoing process of militarization in the social sphere stands as a grave obstacle to civilian supremacy over the armed forces in Nepal. Cynthia Enloe defines militarization as a step-by-step process by which institutions gradually become controlled by the military or come to depend on it or militaristic ideas for their well being. At its most overt, a militarized society is one in which the military has taken ascendancy over a civilian institutions, and its predominantly and visibly relied upon to police and regulate
civilian movement, solve political problems, and defend or expand boundaries in the name of national security. It is through militarization that the ideology of militarism, which supposes aggressive, hyper-masculine, militant solutions to conflict, and justifies violence and terror, is ushered into our institutions and ways of thought.
Sociologically, it can be said that Nepali society has had tremendous experience with war since the 1800s when Lahure (Nepal youths recruited into British and Indian armies) culture was started. The early experience took place outside the nation and indirectly affected to the Nepali society. British East India Company recruited Nepali adults for a defense and expansion of United Kingdom’s colonial interests. More than 27,000 soldiers were hired between 1886 and 1904. Roughly two hundred thousand (20 percent) of the adult male population in the country were drawn to India during the World War I. Approximately the same number participated in World War II52. Therefore, war is not a new phenomenon to Nepalis; particularly Janajati ethnicities, and the meaning of Lahure connotes both prestige and wealth. The cultural aspect of militant values has been embedded in Nepali society for a long time, only to intensely erupt recently.
Experienced in WWII53 and Inspired by the world wide independence and democratization waves; The Nepali Congress had waged an armed movement against the 104-year autocrat hereditary Rana regime; Aimed at establishing a democratic republic and ending with the abolishment of Rana rule in 1950. It was a significant military based revolutionary movement against the autocratic hereditary ruling system. In the 1970s; one faction of the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist Leninist) started armed struggle in eastern Nepal (Jhapa district) against “feudals” which they named Barga Shatru Khatam Abhiyan (Exterminate the class enemy campaign). It was inspired by Latin American revolutionary literature and the Naxlanbadhi Kisan Aandholan (known as Naxalbari Agriculture Movement) in India. However, the Indian Government crushed the movement early on. Adopting some of the same strategy and tactics, the Maoists also initiated the People’s War on February 13, 1996. Within the decade of People’s War, Nepali society transformed once again toward militancy and militarism.
The intense process of militarization in Nepali society has further generated a more challenging atmosphere the security system to cope with. The spread of the Maoist’s armed movement across the nation, particularly in the rural regions in Nepal, caused the royal government to begin incrementally increasing the defense expenditure in security institutions and recruiting security personnel in the name of containing the Maoists. The security expenditure never had reached such a level in the history of Nepal. During the decade of conflict, the ranks of the NA more than doubled from some 46,000 to 96,000. The Armed Police Force (APF) established an additional state security organ in between the Nepal Army and Nepal Police with 23,000 and Nepal Police of 48,500. In the time of armed conflict, Maoists trained more than 30,000 combatants and more then one hundred thousand paramilitary personnel and large numbers of militia. As a consequence Nepali society hurled towards a militarization process that consumed large economic and social costs. That the United Maoists, the largest political party, has advocated mandatory military training above 18-years54 to both male and female is a crucial point to mention here to understand how military values have become paramount in Nepali social (political) space. Recently, the Maoists armed movement has ended, but more than a hundred other armed groups 55 have appeared in southern parts of the country, especially Tarai/Madhes, which some have assumed are the byproduct of the Maoists armed culture. The Tarai-Madhes is the most unstable and deeply troubled region of Nepal in recent years and is also in ferment today. Abductions, killings, retaliations, extortions, torture, etc. are common phenomenon in recent days due to fission of many groups from the mainstream militants. Right to life, liberty, security, and dignity are endangered.
Dozens of armed, semi-armed and criminal groups were born when the Government and the Maoists signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on November 22, 2009. The government of Active armed organizations (as of July 2009) Inactive Armed Organizations (as of 2009)
Nepal recorded that there are 109 armed, semi-armed, and criminal groups59 and more than hundred others unarmed organizations has been intensifying their activities across Nepal.
Some of the major armed and criminal groups in recent days are: Akhil Tarai Mukti Morcha (Goit faction), Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Jwala Singh, and Bisfot Singh factions), Janabadi Ganatantrik Mukti Morcha, Tarai Cobra (Nagaraja), Defense Army, Tarai Army, National Army Nepal, Ulpha Group, Change Nepal, Nepal Gorkha Army and Madhesi Special Force, Madhesi Tigers, etc. (more in Table 4). Their military strength varies from 150 – 2000 in number. The Goit and Jwala Singh factions are the most active militant forces. Quoting the Recent Report developed by the Ministry of Home, Kantipur daily stated that some of Tarai-Madhes based militant groups including Goit and Singh have received moral, terrain, sanctuary, financials and arms and
ammunitions support from the senior level Indian politicians.
More than 20 militant groups have the intention of secession of the Tarai-Madhes from Nepal whereas nearly 60 militant groups have a political intention and many activities of them are against the Pahade (hill-and-mountain dwellers), some seem against Khas/ethnic chauvinism, and few see it as a struggle for existence (fights to the finish amongst themselves for their identity). These groups are active in nine out of 20 districts –Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusa, Mahottari, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, and Nawalparasi are advancing as rationalist and secessionist forces in favor of Tarain-Madhesis. As a result, many Pahade officials/inhabitants of those districts have either left or gone underground, where a few of them have been killed. The militant activities intensified in Nepal, likely due to cheaply available small and light weapons in Indian boarder areas of Nepal at a bargain rate.
Among the structurally divided with a high degree of inequality (class, caste, geography, ethnicity and gender) countries, Nepal seems more vulnerable for violent conflicts. Due to inequality in distribution of resources and opportunities, inadequate service delivery systems, injustice to cultural identities, ineffective governance and administration, inefficient socio-political transformation and intolerant leadership has created fragile situation of nation. Due to the growing trends of militancy in politics, mushrooming of the violent and criminal groups has pushed the nation towards a ‘failed state.’ In the recently released “Foreign Policy Index,” Nepal is depicted within the 25 most likely nations to become a failed state63. In terms of disruption of internal security management, Nepal lies behind Lebanon and Colombia.
- Utilization of SSR: The classical concept of DDR and SSR is not applicable in Nepalese context. DDR and SSR is a political process. “DD” of Maoist and Nepal Army have completed but the most difficult part “R” or reintegration is remained. (Re)Integration is a political process rather than an institutional and technical one. Rather than the reintegration process, Nepal should follow the Security Sector Transformation (SSR) with a national political consensus.
- No Politicization: Both Armies (NA and MA) should not involve in politics and armed forces should not be an agenda of politics. Politicization of the army encourages establishment of the armed institutions that give birth of more armed, semi-armed, and criminal groups. Such trends hamper the democratic system.
- Transparent and Accountable: Security institutions should be transparent and accountable and should be responsible with the people and nation. Recruitment process has to be competitive, cohesive, and inclusive.
- Demilitarization: Demilitarization is to be taken as pre-condition of civilian supremacy. Law and order of the country has been deteriorating due to the growing number of self-emerged non-state armed groups particularly in Tarai-Madhes and generally throughout the nation. The emerging culture of youth militant wings including the political parties should be discouraged.
- Democratization and Professionalization: Both means and processes to be initiated as soon as possible.
- Support: DDR and SSR are expensive processes. Huge sums of resources, technical expertise, and moral international supports are the principal tools to ending crises.
- Civil-Military Relation: Proper definition of CMR is today’s urgent need for Nepal and policy needs to be formulated accordingly. Extensive discussion on CMR to be conducted on social spheres and individuals.
- Inclusion: Both internal (within security forces) and external (international and national security experts) shall be included in the development of security agendas, policy formation, and advancement of curricula for the forces. The SSR and DDR models of the world have demonstrated that both can be an instrument for conflict resolution. The outcome depends upon how the concerned actors act. The DDR and SSR process has succeeded where the ex-violent culture, structure, and actors were ready to transform the conflict through peaceful means. The concerned organizations who had been facilitating and mediating for the peace process were pro-peace actors rather than those with vested political interests and trouble makers. The prime agenda to initiate the peace process of the concerned nation is Disarmament and Demobilization (DD) of the militants. Successful DDR conversion depends upon: reduction of military expenditure, orientation of military research and development, conversion of the arms and industry, demobilization and reintegration, redevelopment of troops, democratization and professionalization and safe disposal and weapons surplus management.