Print Edition - 2019-05-02 | News
Two major police units operating from tents for the last four years
- While officials continue to face difficulties, authorities say there is a lack of budget to build proper infrastructure
May 2, 2019-
The eastern gate of the National Trading Limited at Teku leads to a view of blue tents anchored to the ground. These blue tents belong to two major police offices in the Capital—the Metropolitan Police Range and the Metropolitan Police Crime Division.Inside the premises, the main office of the Metropolitan Police Range is adjusted in an old, yellow building while the Metropolitan Police Crime Division operates from a small area behind Sasa banquet, which is in front of the entrance of National Trading Limited (NTL).
Around 350 officials that make up the two units mostly operate from inside the blue tents because of a lack of proper physical structure and enough space.
Four years ago, three days after the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015, the Metropolitan Police Range and the Metropolitan Police Crime Division had moved their offices from Hanuman Dhoka to Teku.
The structure at Hanuman Dhoka, from which both units were operating, had suffered damages due to the quake and the repeated aftershocks put the buildings at more risk. Both the units had then been moved to Teku.
According to the two offices, the lack of proper physical structure is making it challenging to carry out day-to-day tasks, such as registering cases to investigating, interrogating and carrying out their duties effectively.
“We do not have rooms for any of our nine pillars, or for officers to sleep at night or to store important files. We are worried about keeping evidence safe,” Dhiraj Pratap Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police and chief of the crime division, told the Post. “The problems of operating from tents increase when the banquet hosts parties.”
The Metropolitan Police Crime Division has nine different pillars looking after different natures of crime and keeping the records of various cases. The division looks after criminal activities such as cybercrime, murder, human trafficking, kidnapping, blackmail, dacoits, theft, arson, organised crimes, and serious crimes related to public health, consumer food products and customs and revenue, among others.
“A victim of cybercrime needs consultation but we don’t have a proper consultation room. We also need a proper room to conduct polygraph tests and interrogations but we have no rooms here,” said Singh. “We have been using the prison cells of the Metropolitan Police Range to hold our prisoners.”
“The general public often gets confused and has to wander around looking for the right tent to file their complaints. We don’t even have a proper waiting/ resting area for those who come to file complaints with us,” he said.
Along with the crime division, the Metropolitan Police Range has also been reeling from similar problems for the past four years.
“Four deputy superintendents of police in the range share a single room. We have stored many of our important equipment in the flimsy tents. We don’t even have a proper place for officers to sleep,” Senior Superintendent of Police Basanta Lama, chief of the range, told the Post.
According to the offices, major problems arise during the monsoon when tents start leaking, since the tents have undergone major wear and tear. And when rough winds blow, officers often have to scramble to save important files and documents. “Not all officers can afford to rent a room in the Capital due to which most prefer to stay in the office. During the winter and rainy seasons, more than a dozen of our officers fall sick due to poor living conditions here,” he said.
According to Singh, police officers falling sick during the winter and monsoon seasons is a regular occurrence at the division as well.
“Since there was not enough space for both the offices at the beginning, they had to build tents in the open premises,” Senior Superintendent of Police Uttam Raj Subedi, the spokesperson for Nepal Police, told the Post. “However, due to a lack of budget and open land to construct structures for the offices, they have been bound to operate through these tents for the past four years.”
However, Nepal Police has said that the difficulties faced by the two police units will soon end.
According to a senior official at the Metropolitan Police Office, Ranipokhari, the primary law enforcement agency for the Kathmandu Valley, the process to allocate land for both the offices has already started.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, chief of the metropolitan police office, told the Post, “Discussions with concerned authorities to allocate 10 ropanis of land for the crime division and 15 ropanis of land for the Metropolitan Police Range are ongoing.”
The division is said to be provided with 10 ropanis of land on the NTL premises from where it is currently operating while the Metropolitan Police Range is said to get 15 ropanis of land behind the Ministry of Health and Population office which also belongs to the NTL.
However, the officials at the Home Ministry have said that the difficulty lies in receiving the budget for building two well-equipped structures.
“The problem has always been about the budget. If the budget was allocated to build the structures, it would not have been a difficult task to purchase land,” Ram Krishna Subedi, the spokesperson for the Home Ministry, told the Post.
According to a senior police officer, the Cabinet under then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba (June 7, 2017, to February 15, 2018) had decided to allocate 32 ropanis of land to build the two police units but the finance ministry did not give a positive response.
“If only there was provision for land, both the police offices would have started operations by building temporary structures like they have done now. It’s still not certain if the two police offices will have their own well-equipped buildings,” said the senior official.
Meanwhile, according to senior officers at the two offices, they will construct new temporary shelters soon, provided the availability of land, to continue their duties from.
Published: 02-05-2019 11:27