Police transgression of human rights spurs protest
KATHMANDU, March 3: The misplaced ideas and campaign of Nepal Police to bring down ‘crimes’ and ‘hooliganism’ by rounding up young men with long hair and piercings and subjugating them to a haircut has ignited an outpouring of outrage. The act of hauling up some 700 youths and taking down their names, finger prints and photos on February 25 has resulted in the police receiving flak.
Protesting against this violation of human rights, Basantapur on Saturday filled up with more than 300 people for a peaceful demonstration. Many also carried placards, one of which read ‘I have long hair. I’m not a criminal’.
Youth gather with placards at Basantapur in Kathmandu on Saturday to protest against the violation of human rights when around 700 youths were arrested by Nepal Police for sporting long hair and piercings on February 25. (Bhaswor Ojha/Republica)
Started initially on Facebook on Thursday, it gained momentum as volunteers began joining the cause. Roman Gautam, one of the volunteers and protesters, informed that they had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to challenge the legality of the police action on Friday, but it was dismissed as being too superficial. There was a round of collection of signatures during the protest to add to the weight of the PIL which they are planning to file again within a day or two.
Tsewang Tamang, 22, is an architecture student at Kathmandu Engineering College who was present to support the show of solidarity against the abuse of human rights. Even though Tsewang’s hair length would inspire no ire from the police, he said, “The length of my hair is irrelevant to the cause. I’m here to protest against the action of the police.”
It’s a more personal matter for Bijay Shrestha, 23, however. Bijay’s long hair is tucked beneath a cap, and his piercings are visible. When asked if he’s hiding the length of his hair, he laughed and said, “Not really.” However, he has his share of experiences. “I do small gigs around town, and it’s late when I return home. The police, then, cause unnecessary trouble,” he said. Diwas Gurung, 20, also sports long hair. He was present with his group of friends to support the remonstration.
Stating that the actions of the police were wrong, artist Milan Rai said that an individual’s body is no one’s business. Musicians Abhaya Subba, Mukti Shakya, Robin Tamang, Yama Buddha and Divesh Mulmi were also present at the scene, and sang songs to add to the cause.
Those with and without long hair and piercings continue to be baffled by the objective of the police campaign, and wonder how long hair is related to criminal activities.