BY D. M. THAPA
Just a few days back, there were reports that the Nepal Army had acquired more than six thousand sophisticated rifles from the USA. There may be two sides to this development, but still, it is good for the Nepal Army to also be well equipped, though it is in no condition to fight with either India or China the only two nations which share borders with Nepal. In fact India had even threatened to “flatten Nepal within half and hour”, if there is a war between the two nations.
In fact Nepal is like India’s own territory and Indian security personnel come and go as they please, even as our own proud Nepal Army soldiers stay in their barracks and their officers always seem to be holding meetings.
At least the Bangladesh Army had the guts to open fire at the Indian Border Security Force personnel who had entered Bangladesh fully armed and the Indian side lost about three dozen security personnel in that incident. But our own Army and police, only threaten the Nepalese and cannot do anything when our borders are encroached upon.
While the Nepal Army could not protect its original Supreme Commander, with the reign of whose ancestors the history of the present Nepal Army started, what else can it do, no matter how sophisticated arms they may receive. And who paid for the rifles, the US or Nepal?
On the other hand, our own Nepal Police could do nothing when the armed insurgency was started in Nepal back in 1996 by the then Maoists which was only a rag tag outfit of political workers with anti Indian slogans. But even the Army could do nothing when this same outfit became stronger. Now we can see senior ranking Army officials and Police officials running behind the very enemies they fought recently and some have even become MPs from such parties. Is this not a shame?
The Police personnel looted the very houses which gave them shelter and raped women haphazardly. Wily politicians and greedy IGPs like Achyut Kharel and his henchmen for example, initially ordered his men to kill any person in the far flung villages, especially in Western Nepal, but when many innocents retaliated by siding with the Maoists out of anger, the same Kharel told his men to make a “brave” retreat, thus leaving the villages wide open for many types of criminal activities. It is another thing that the Maoists joined mainstream politics and now are in power, this is good, but many thugs also made much money and created havoc in the name of the insurgency. How could the politicians and IGPs like Kharel be much behind? They imported hunting rifles actually meant to kill small animals and birds to fight the Maoists and they took millions of rupees illegally by flying private helicopters on rent. It is reported that these people increased the flying hours on their own and cheated the government besides looting at other places. Many innocent people lost their lives in this elongated war between the Nepalese, but of course with constant interference of the foreigners who wanted to pit both the sides with one another. The security forces and the Maoists also lost brave soldiers believing the promises for a better Nepal, while innocent men and women were killed indiscriminately and hundreds of thousands of Nepali citizens were displaced. Offices, banks and any places with money and valuable papers were looted and other infrastructures were destroyed all in the name of making a new Nepal from “Ground Zero”, and again the foreigners encouraged us with sweet sounding words, but actually were working for their own political gains. From the USA, India and several European countries, they were all involved in the turmoil in Nepal for their own interests. In fact the twelve point agreement between the then protesting political parties and the then banned Maoists, was signed under the guidance of India and Maoists leaders were enjoying themselves in that same country when an Interpol warrant was made public against those people who the government thought were criminals.
While we cannot blame outsiders alone for such a dastardly situation in Nepal, it is still said that India was directly involved in helping the Maoists by giving them shelter, weapons, teaching them fighting tactics and even sending former army men who worked in the Indian Army, exactly like Leo E. Rose said, when he had written a prophetic book a long time back. So we must blame our own political leaders as well, especially those who put a ransom on the heads of many Maoist leaders, but now run after them to get back to power. What can such individuals do for a better Nepal of which the majority of Nepalese had dreamed? For example Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress, who is the main opposition leader, is the first man who should be jailed by the International Criminal Court with a string of others, including some Maoists leaders and security officers. Shame on you all, for making Nepal what it is now and not having any guilty conscience, while the Nepali citizens were killing each other following the orders of their leaders or from politicians who were in power then. They will be punished by God but they should be punished by the courts as well.
They were happy that they were getting richer even as the common people were becoming poorer and the people still cannot trust each other, forget the security forces and the insurgents. In short, Nepal is in disarray, politically, economically and more importantly socially, while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
While they gobble billions of rupees from the government coffers and also from the funds provided by foreign countries, like USA, India, China and others, the Army officers always seem to be in constant meetings, though they never talk about the unproductive things they are doing. By “unproductive”, we mean the hundreds of lower ranked security personnels working in the houses of current officers and even retired ones. From menial household work like cooking, weeding the gardens, cleaning and washing clothes, high ranking officers, though retired are also provided drivers to drive around their daintily dressed up wives their daughters too. This must be costing a hell lot of tax payers’ money, the same taxes the officers too have to pay like any ordinary citizen, though they staunchly believe this comes free and not the at the cost of the nation. What an irony. One can learn about such mean acts of security officials and their families only from some vernacular weeklies but no one reacts and the officers themselves just keep mum with a smug attitude that they are more privileged than an ordinary citizen.
When the officers are enjoying as much as they can, how can their wives lag behind? So all the security forces have their separate Officers’ Wives’ Associations and also the bureaucrats have such an association. After all these are the people who can raise most funds, all in the garb of doing social work Maoist MP Pampha Bhusal has rightly said all such associations have to be scrapped, as they are mostly used to promote top ranking officials and also provide a forum for the wives to chit chat and show off the wealth that their husbands have accumulated — legally or illegally.
Now to come to the Nepal Police, a few days back, one more former IGP (Inspector General of Police), the highest ranked authority in the entire Police Force and probably one of the most powerful individuals in the entire country along with the Prime Minister and Army Chief, was sent to jail by the Supreme Court on charges of corruption. The morale of the Nepal Police must be at a real down level right now. This author knows that the majority of policemen from the bottom to the top are corrupt, but there are many other hard working men and women who must be disgusted and discouraged with one after the other top ranking police personnel going to jail or openly indulging in corruption letting go of the big criminals and catching only them “soft targets”.
In the past, two IGPs and several top ranking officers have been sent to jail as per the Supreme Court decision for being involved in corrupt acts. But it is an irony that they get very light sentences and also get away with a paltry sum as fine. Just a few days back, a army official in Cyprus was arrested and tried in court for a string of murders he had committed, which unfortunately included the death one innocent Nepali woman as well. But he got a jail sentence of a whopping 150 years and was made to give a compensation of 20,000 US dollars each to the families of the victims. That is the type of punishment that must be meted out to criminals and corrupt officials, so that others will be deterred.
For now, it can be hoped that all such activities will be stopped and thus give no toe hold for foreign power to interfere in Nepal. Then we will really have a prosperous New Nepal, as Prime Minister KP Oli has promised and all the people have dreamt about. The sacrifices of all, specially the martyrs simply cannot be forgotten due to the greed of some individuals who seem to have no conscience.