You may be driving home or office on a motorbike. Perhaps you are also speeding up to get to your destination early (everyone is in rush in Kathmandu). Then something happens. A vehicle, in high speed, nearly swerves beside yours and it knocks you down. You and your pillion rider fall on the road. The vehicle driver, who commits this, does not slow down, let alone stop and come to ask if you are hurt. The fallen passengers are left helpless until they can regain composure by themselves or some passersby come to their aid. This is exactly what happened along Naya Baneshwar-Maitighar section of the road in Kathmandu on Friday evening. A speedy van belonging to Armed Police Force (APF) abruptly rear-ended a scooter pushing the pillion riding woman on the road and injuring her. The police van was escorting a VIP vehicle. The APF van with security personnel was escorting Lokendra Bahadur Chand—the former prime minister from Panchayat as well as multi-party democratic era.
The video footage of this incident has taken the general public by outrage. ‘How can the security agency and even VIPs become so insensitive to public safety? Accidents happen but why did the van (behind which there were police personnel who saw the woman fall) and its occupants (including the VIP) not even care to stop to show concern? General public, beware of the VIPs on the road. They might crush you to a pulp.’ This is how the commoners have reacted to the incident. What happened on Friday evening is reflective of how politicians in power take people for granted and how, when in power, they tend to assume excessive power and authority and think of themselves as more equal than the citizens. Our so called VIPs (from former presidents to prime ministers to other state officials) display pomposity when they travel around. They care little about the inconvenience caused by their movement to others. When sitting president and prime minister have to move from one place to other, they bring the whole traffic to a grinding halt—to the great public annoyance and even defiance. They want no obstructions on the road while they are travelling but they do not seem to care how badly the mess on the road is affecting lives of commoners. This is the attitude politicians in power must give up. Otherwise people will rage.
The police authority has vowed to investigate the case and do the needful. Reportedly, Valley Traffic Police and APF have jointly started the investigation. They have admitted the carelessness of APF van. Former Prime Minister Chand has also expressed concern about the incident. Since there have not been major injuries AFP authority might simply apologize with the injured victim and return to business as usual. It should not end just there. The incident must trigger soul-searching among our VIPs and top political class regarding how their activities and movement cause great disturbance to public and even result in injuries. Our VIPs have assumed too much of self-importance. They need to think and act like a commoner. When it comes to safety and convenience, nobody is more equal to commoners and nobody is above the law.