Army to step up poll security measures

  • Says it will conduct land and aerial patrols as violent acts go unabated
- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Nov 20, 2017-After a spate of attacks on the candidates and election campaigns, the Nepal Army has decided to conduct land and aerial patrols in order to curb anti-poll activities.

Security agencies have been directed to identity people who are against the elections and closely monitor their activities.

The Nepal police, the Armed Police Force, the Army and the Department of National Investigation are working to identify people who are against the elections. On the basis of inputs provided by the other agencies, the police administration has been instructed to detain people and interrogate them, according to officials.

According to sources at the Home Ministry, more than 300 people involved in anti-election activities have been nabbed so far in various parts of the country. A majority of them belong to the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, a Maoist splinter group.

Home Ministry Spokesperson Narayan Prasad Sharma said, “We have taken extra measures to ensure the security of candidates as well as voters. We will bring the situation under control soon,” he said.

The government is also preparing to redraw the security plan. The National Security Council will meet on Monday to review the security arrangements for the elections.

According to sources, the Army says that security of candidates is not its responsibility but it would cooperate to identify people opposed to the elections. 

“There is a better coordination among the security forces [now]. If there are any lapses, we are trying to identify them,” he told the Post.

“We will start patrolling on land and from air to tackle anti-poll activities,” Army chief Rajendra Chhetri told the press conference at the Defence Ministry on Sunday.

The Home Ministry also plans to deploy more teams for security of election rallies. Special attention would be paid to the routes used by the candidates for campaigns.

The Home Ministry has also intensified checking, patrolling and other security measures. Earlier, the ministry had said that Chand’s outfit in the hills and cadres of “free Madhes” campaigner CK Raut in the plains were the major security threats.

Former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety said there could be some lapses in preparations by the security forces. “Our forces are fully capable of dealing with any kinds of security threat. It seems that the preparations are not sufficient,” Uprety said, recalling that there was “excellent coordination” among the security forces in the second Constituent Assembly elections.

“The security agencies should revisit their arrangements for highly sensitive places,” Uprety said, blaming the violent activities on the parties that have boycotted the polls.

As the forces are taking more stringent measures, members of the Chand-led party are semi-underground. The party has denied its involvement in the incidents. “We have no policy of attacking party leaders and candidates. Some people are trying to defame us,” said CPN leader Khadga Bahadur Bishwokarma.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who also looks after the home portfolio, is currently in the far-western region to address election rallies. He also attended regional security meetings there. After returning to Kathmandu on Monday, the PM is expected to meet with security chiefs to address the situation.

Published: 20-11-2017 07:25

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