Polls security in question amid growing violence

Published On: May 13, 2017 02:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 11: Growing number of poll-related violence in the backdrop of the local elections has exposed lapses in the 'integrated polls security plan' of the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

While the existing security arrangements have so far proved successful to contain the activities of the poll-opposing forces, it has failed to take into account other dimensions of the polls security including security of poll candidates and election campaigners. 

According to the Election Commission, more than two dozen cases of poll-related violence have been reported in three provinces in the last one week. On Wednesday, a deadly clash between supporters of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) had left one UML supporter dead and scores injured. Similar clashes have been reported in other places including Pokhara, Chitwan, Rukum, Nuwakot and other districts. 

In the wake of the growing poll-related violence, all parties including Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) have drawn the attention of the Election Commission. UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai said that the party has been frequently drawing the attention of the Election Commission. 

 "UML leaders and cadres are becoming frequent target of various parties. The government should ensure safety and security while the EC should warn other parties to abide by election code of conduct," said Bhattarai. 

Following the sudden increase in reports of poll-related violence, the Election Commission on Thursday had directed the concerned agencies to remain alert to avoid possible violence in the future.

"The EC is committed to ensure polls in a free, fair and impartial environment," Chief Election Commissioner Aayodhee Prasad Yadav said on Thursday. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs is the lead agency to oversee the elections security. Home ministry's spokesperson Bal Krishna Pathi said that the MoHA has made all necessary arrangement for violence-free elections. He said that the security agencies have so far proved successful in maintaining law and order. 

"We have left no stone unturned to ensure proper security. The security forces remain prepared to contain all kinds of possible threats to the polls," said Panthi. 

Officials said that a total of 30,000 personnel of Armed Police Force, 22,695 of Nepal Police and 22,699 temporary police have been deployed in three provinces that go to the polls in the first phase on May 14. In addition to that, the government has also deployed Nepal Army to guard the outer periphery of the polling centers. 

MoHA officials said that more than 50,000 security personnel have been kept on standby to be deployed during emergencies. 

Besides electoral violence, security agencies are expecting possible disruption of polls by the poll-opposing forces including Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN Maoist. Nepal Police has intensified the arrest of CPN Maoist cadres and gangsters in views of possible threat to polls security.

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