November 13, 2017 06:50 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Nov 13: Chiefs of security agencies and secretaries at the ministries dealing with election security have committed to the Election Commission (EC) to provide foolproof security for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections.
In a meeting of the high-level central security committee held at the EC headquarters on Sunday, the chiefs of four security agencies said they are committed to ensuring poll security, adding that any form of security threat would be thwarted. They asked the election body to move ahead with full confidence for conducting the polls on the scheduled dates. “They presented their poll security strategies and assured us of foolproof security for the elections,” said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.
In the wake of sporadic attacks on candidates, chiefs of the security agencies -- Nepal Police, Armed Police Force (APF), National Investigation Department (NID) and Nepal Army (NA) -- were invited to the EC headquarters together with the secretaries from home and defense ministries to discuss ways to tackle the security challenges.
EC is concerned over poll security arrangements after some disgruntled groups attacked poll rallies targeting candidates mainly in Rukum and Rolpa districts, cradle of the Nepali Maoist insurgency. Attacks on candidates are happening at a time when the Ministry of Home Affairs, the ministry responsible for arranging poll security, is left without a dedicated minister.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has not assigned the home ministry portfolio to any of his ministers after Maoist leader Janardan Sharma was stripped of the home ministry portfolio. Deuba, who has kept the home ministry for himself, has not even succeed in organizing regional gatherings of security forces. In recent days, cadres of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party, a splinter faction of the CPN (Maoist Center), have been attacking candidates.
A day after cadres said to be aligned with the Chand-led Maoist party hurdled two bombs at the car of minister without portfolio and CPN (Maoist Center) leader Janardan Sharma in Rukum, another Maoist leader, Barshaman Pun, was attacked on Saturday. Pun, who is also a former finance minister, and other poll campaigners travelling with him, survived the attack, but their car was damaged in the blast.
On Sunday, the attackers fired a shot targeting former minister Pun near Duikholi river. Pun, who was heading for Iriwang from Rangsi, however, escaped the attack.
Even as the chiefs of security agencies assured of securing candidates and votes, the EC commissioners stressed the need for mobilizing security personnel in a coordinated manner while implementing the security plans. “It is essential to further improve the security plan, sincerely implement it and mobilize security personnel in a coordinated manner,” said Commissioner Sudheer Kumar Shah, who coordinates the high-level central coordination committee.
Nepal Police chief Prakash Aryal, APF Chief Singha Bahadur Shrestha, NID head Dilip Raj Regmi and NA’s Lieutenant General Purna Chandra Thapa, and Home Secretary Mohan Krishna Sapkota among others were present in the meeting.