Army enhances presence to curb anti-poll actions

- Post Report, Kathmandu
NA officials say resurgence of violent activities has prompted them to ‘play a more active role’ in maintaining law and order during the elections

Dec 3, 2017-After a series of explosions in the Capital and other parts of the country in the run-up to the second phase of federal and provincial elections, the Nepal Army has increased its presence in order to curb anti-poll activities. The frequency of patrols, according to NA officials, has increased of late in the 45 districts where polling takes place on Thursday.

Army officials said resurgence of violent activities has prompted them to “play a more active role” in maintaining law and order. “We are more active and cautious after some blasts in the Capital and other parts of the country. The Army is working to ensure a peaceful environment for the polls,” said NA Spokesperson Brig Nain Raj Dahal. He said the Army was fully committed to the duties assigned by the government for the sake of the elections.

Army chief Rajendra Chhetri is visiting the districts where the elections are being held on December 7. Chhetri, who set out on a tour of four districts in Province 2, visited Butwal in Province 5 on Friday. The NA has already set up its temporary bases in all the electoral constituencies. In “sensitive” constituencies, there is at least one base camp of the Army while in “highly sensitive” districts, there are up to four bases. For the second phase of elections, the NA has deployed 36,000 personnel apart from those securing vital installations.

With the spike in violent incidents, security agencies are under pressure to control such activities. The Nepal Police has also said it has stepped up its surveillance and patrolling. After Friday’s explosion in Kathmandu, the Home Ministry has instructed the police administration to increase checks in the Valley. On Friday evening, two improvised explosive devices went off in Kupandole and near Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s residence in Budhanilkantha.

According to police, vigilance has been increased at the entry points to Kathmandu. “There is a reliable and effective checking system in all the entry points in order to control transportation of explosive materials,” said Nepal Police Spokesman Manoj Neupane. He termed the blasts as attempts to create terror among the people. Police have intensified checking in the two major entry points of Thankot and Sanga.

Amid growing security threats, the Election Commission on Friday sought updates from the security agencies on their arrangements. The Home Ministry has been instructed to revise its security plan to tackle new threats. Security forces have named the Communist Party of Nepal led by Netra Bikram Chand as the main threat while CK Raut and Jai Krishna Goit are seen as major threats in the Tarai.

Former chief election commissioner Surya Prasad Shrestha said some anti-election forces were trying to terrorise people with an aim to discourage voter turnout.

Published: 03-12-2017 07:31

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