South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

I have been covering crime for the last three years, and the kind of issues that I write about I am afraid don’t count as good news. It is a monotonous routine, and the things I write about usually come from the human underbelly. Of course, a few of the things I have written about have had wide readership. For instance, the arrest of glamourous models on charges of human trafficking.
A lot of crime reporting includes the daily tallying up of what police sources tell us. But, occasionally it also involves shining the light on the police themselves. The media has a short attention span, and what that means for many of the burning social issues is that they get overlooked or ignored even after being visible. Such is the level of impunity within the police force that very rarely feathers get ruffled by media reports.
So it came as no surprise that Inspector Dol Raj Shahi, who was accused of helping an inmate escape from the Dillibazaar jail on August 14, was freed from judicial custody on the orders of the Kathmandu District Court. No surprise either, that the police officers accused of misdemeanor always get a clean chit from the judiciary. What is intriguing in the case of Shahi is that no reporter knew when he was taken into judicial custody. Things became public only when he released. The grapevine has it that he was released at the behest of a former police chief.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The abduction of businessman Sanjay Surekha is mired in a controversy of its own magnitude. Kidnappers let Surekha off the hook only after his kin paid more than US$ 200,000 ransom. Police later managed to arrest the culprits. But Additional Inspector General of Police Kalyan Kumar Timalsina, going beyond his jurisdiction, put pressure on the investigators to release the detained kidnappers on bail, promising that they would remain in contact with the police, which they never did. A probe panel formed by the Police Headquarters found AIG Timalsina guilty.  The probe panel submitted the findings to Police HQ and Home Minister recommending action against AIG Timalsina, but the punishment never came about.
Police HQ still says that investigation is still underway. The report, which is yet to be made public, had also found Timalsina guilty of interference in the investigation into the theft of US$ 300000 from Chinese traders. More surprisingly, the police took action against police personnel of the lower rank, Makar Shrestha and Constable Ram Hari Subedi. But Timalsina remains immune, thanks to political connections.
The police administration won’t book top ranking officials but it does not spare the rod when it comes to taking action against the rank and file. It is also quick to declare the involvement of lower rank police personnel’s involvement in crimes. But when it comes to information about the top brass, things are stonewalled.
Another case that raised questions over the extent of corruption in the police force is the murder of media entrepreneur Jamim Shah on February 7. Despite knowing the close nexus between the killers, including Babloo Shrivastava and former DSP Jagadish Chand, some high ranking police officers let Shrivastava slip away. Investigators had also substantiated the involvement of other senior police officers for their failure to arrest Shah’s killer. Only a few at the bottom of the hierarchy were reprimanded.
Human rights organisations as well as media investigations have implicated DSP Bhola Rawal in the death of Sanu Sunuwar in police custody at the Metropolitan Police Circle Kalimati in the third week of May. But DSP Rawal, who is a close relative of the current Home Minister Bhim Rawal, remains free. The list goes on.
There is no dearth of good cops. But those with good reputations have not been given responsibility or promotion. Yet, a determined few can make a difference. The turnaround in Kathmandu in the last few months is a case in point. Let’s hope this glimmer of hope becomes a rule and not an exception.
Source: The Kathmandu Post – 30.08.2010