There have been disturbing developments in the last few days which suggest the security situation in the country is fragile. On Tuesday, Suresh Yadav, general manager of Nepal Railways, was gunned down while holding a village meeting in the courtyard of his house in Sirsiya, Dhanusha. In the early hours of Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam was shot dead in an audacious day-light attempt at Shankhamul, Lalitpur; Bam’s bodyguard, Mahesh Giri, is in a critical condition. Then on the same night, an explosion rocked Karkando chowk in Banke. The blast, thankfully, resulted in no casualties. Although these three incidents might be completely unlinked, they all point to the same troubling trend: of a spurt in criminal activities in the prolonged state of transition. As Chief Justice Khilraj Regmi said on Friday, Bam’s murder at stone throw away from a police station has put a serious question mark over the security of the judiciary as well as common people.
The audacity of attacks on the likes of SC Judge Bam, media entrepreneur Jamim Shah (2010) and Islam Association General Secretary Faizan Ahmad (2011) all hint at serious lapses with security arrangements in what should be the safest place in the country, its capital city. But the fact that criminal elements have been repeatedly successful in penetrating its security arrangements doesn’t give people much confidence about the security of their lives and properties. It also suggests growing criminalization of the society, with proliferation of small arms and rising culture of impunity. The Tarai belt in particular has witnessed mushrooming of criminal groups in political garb since the start of the peace process. Thursday morning’s murder of Nepal Railways GM Yadav is the latest in the list of the gruesome crimes these outfits have been involved in. The belt is especially vulnerable to criminalization given the ease with which criminal elements and arms can move through the porous border.
We fear the elements that want to sow instability in Nepali society might have been bolstered by failure of the CA to come up with a constitution, which has meant that the state of transition in the country has been prolonged—probably indefinitely, given the doubts over the scheduled Nov. 22 elections. In the months ahead, the country can expect to see all kinds of criminal outfits trying to further their goals under the proxy of religious and ethnic outfits. The state’s repeated failure to get to the root of criminal activities and bring the culprits to book will further embolden them.
For these reasons it is crucial that the killers of Bam and Yadav be brought to justice. Particularly in a state of transition it is important that the state be seen as able to impose its writ, to give common people the confidence that their lives and belongings are secure and send out a clear message to criminal elements that even in the midst of great political flux, the country’s law enforcement mechanisms are alive and kicking. As things stand, a successful attempt at life of a Supreme Court judge in the heart of Kathmandu does not inspire much confidence among the people