Police in political quagmire: Pandering to tastes of parties while in service, becoming politician after retirement

Published On: September 23, 2022 01:08 PM NPT By: Arun Bam

KATHMANDU, Sept 23: Allegations of political interference in Nepal Police are overwhelming. Almost every promotion is challenged at courts. The fact that the highest level of political maneuvering takes place in transfers is an "open secret".

There have been accusations that political parties have brought politics into the police organization. But within the organization, police officers do more politics than parties. By becoming the confidants of the party leaders and (mis)using the organization for partisan interests, it is the police officers who take advantage.

A proof of this has been given by former Inspector General (IG) Nepal Police Sarbendra Khanal. Even though he was in the police organization, it was not hidden that he was unofficially in the CPN-UML. But on Thursday, he formally joined the UML.

Retired police officers can join political parties. Khanal did the same. But the remarks he made while joining the party have exposed the politics within the police force. In the UML entry program, Khanal said that he worked for UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli even when he was in the police organization. He spoke for more than half an hour and sang Oli's praises.

"I faced about seven Prime Ministers during my service. During my tenure, I never met any other politician like Chairman comrade KP Oli. His words would always brighten me up,” said Khanal, “That's why I worked being close to him.”

He said that Oli and he did the best for themselves and for each other during his service. "I believe that I will still be provided a place under the cool shade of our respected comrade," he said.

Khanal recalled that when he was dealt with injustice during his service, he would go to the UML party office in Balkhu and meet Oli and said that he got justice from there. There are people who are of the opinion that Khanal had a “happy term” with the blessings of UML and Oli. He was promoted from DIG to IG on April 10, 2018 when the UML government was formed under the leadership of Oli. Another DIG, Ramesh Kharel, was dissatisfied when Khanal was appointed the IG and left the organization. Khanal retired on Feb 11, 2020 due to age limit. Even after retirement, he has accepted that he has worked closely with the UML.

As the controversy within the then CPN increased, Khanal was accused of being involved in the kidnapping of parliamentarians to sustain the Oli-led government. In April 2020, Oli introduced the 'Political Party Act Amendment Ordinance' to make it easier to break up political parties. The ordinance was brought to facilitate a split in the Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP). During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is alleged that former IG Khanal, UML leader Mahesh Basnet and then UML leader Kisan Shrestha reached Dhanusha on April 22, 2020 and kidnapped JSP MP Surendra Yadav and brought him to Kathmandu.

Earlier in 2018, the then DIG Nawaraj Silwal, who approached the Supreme Court after failing to become the IG, also joined the UML. Silwal had knocked on the court doors after the government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who was in an alliance with the Nepali Congress, promoted Jay Bahadur Chand to the position of IG. That was an extreme example of partisanship within the police. Silwal went to the court after the then government made Chand the IG, who was close to NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba. The Supreme Court gave a short-term order not to appoint Chand as the IG.

The government appointed Dr Dinesh Chandra Pokharel as acting IG of Nepal Police. Silwal then resigned. He joined the UML without his resignation being accepted. After that, Silwal became a candidate for Member of the House of Representatives from Lalitpur-1 from UML and won the election.

These two ex-police officers are not the only ones who joined political parties and became politicians after their service period; the list of such police officers is long. They have been accused of "serving the parties" not only after retirement but also during their service. Dil Bahadur (DB) Lama, who became the IG during the Panchayat period, joined the Nepali Congress after the adoption of the multiparty system. After that, he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives on a Nepali Congress ticket from Rasuwa in 2000 and became the Assistant Minister for General Administration in the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government in 2002.

Similarly, former IGP Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan joined the RPP after retirement. He is still the vice president of RPP. Similarly, another ex-IG Pradeep Shumsher Rana also entered politics at one time. Former IG Ravindra Pratap Shah also became a proportional MP in the Maoist quota in the second Constituent Assembly member election in 2013. While working in the police organization, he was close to the Congress. Former AIG of Nepal Police Ganeshraj Rai, former DIG Bhaktinath Majhi, Parvati Thapa, former SSPs Vikram Singh Thapa and Laxmi Narsingh Wade, former AIGs of Armed Police Force Subodh Adhikari, Rishab Dev Bhattarai and Krishna Tamang, former DIG Ganesh KC, former SSP Luv Bista and others are now in politics.

It is alleged that the ex-police officers who joined political parties after retirement pandered to the tastes of the political parties of their choice even during their terms. Statements given by ex-police officers confirm that this allegation holds true.

Former AIG of Nepal Police, Ravi Thapa claims that politics entered Nepal Police with the advent of multi-party politics. He further says that the Nepali congress was the party to first politicize the police organization. “The police organization was not politicized during the one-party system; after the country adopted the multiparty system, the parties started misusing the police force during elections," he said, "The police officers, too, proudly say that they belong to this or that party or politicians. This is the saddest part of the police organization.”

He says that political interference in transfers/promotions within the police organization is common. "These days, police officers are labeled as being close to this or that political party right from the recruitment of inspectors. The parties use them accordingly,” said Thapa. He commented that the tendency to serve political parties and politicians while in office and join the parties after retirement is fatal for a healthy police organization.

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