Nepal: Police disrupt peaceful protest
December 3, 2018, 7:06 am
Police intervened in a peaceful protest seeking justice for Nirmala Panta and arrested 12 activists for pasting posters on utility poles in Maitighar today.
The demonstrators were pasting posters featuring Nirmala, a 13-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Kanchanpur district on July 26, demanding that the government bring to book the culprit(s). While the peaceful protest was under way, armed cops arrived and arrested activists, including eight women, at around 3:00pm. Police also confiscated and tore up the posters.
The arrested protesters were forced into a police van and taken to Metropolitan Police Circle, Singha Durbar, before their release in the evening, said Pritam Subedi, one of the protesters. According to him, women cops roughed up two activists.
“If the government can place posters with huge photos of the prime minister in Kathmandu, why are we not allowed to display Nirmala’s images in a democracy where no one is above the law and everyone has the right to peaceful protest?” asked Subedi.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Hobindra Bogati at Metropolitan Police Range, Teku, told THT that activists were released after ‘counselling’. He claimed that they pledged to shun protest programmes seeking justice for Nirmala. “We also briefed the protesters about police bid to lead the criminal investigation to a pragmatic end and arrest the culprit(s),” he said without elaborating on the progress the security agency had made in over four months since the heinous crime.
DSP Bogati claimed that the activists posed a threat to security arrangements made for the Asia Pacific Summit being held in Kathmandu. Over 6,000 cops, both in uniform and civvies, have been deployed for ‘foolproof’ security of foreign delegates.
The police oppression sparked widespread criticism of the government on social networking sites. Bishodip took to Twitter to castigate the government and wrote, “Has the Constitution of Nepal allowed only the government to display its posters?” Syaandai, another twitteratti, posted, “Government, has the freedom of expression really ceased to exist?
Can’t we raise our voice for justice?” Lobangi Arajaktabadi tweeted, “Under which law the government displayed posters of the prime minister and obstructed citizens from putting up posters of Nirmala? Why such dadagiri?”