The August 5 abduction and murder of 12-year-old Nishan Khadka followed by the August 6 ‘encounter killings’ of Khadka’s abductees, Ajay Tamang (24) and Gopal Tamang (23), has raised some troubling questions about Nepal Police. The police appear to be responsible, albeit indirectly, for the killing of the little boy and for what many see as cold blooded shooting of the two abductees.
It is hard to believe that our police is so incompetent that it has to send threatening SMS to the abductees, making them panic and kill the boy under their control. Former police officials say that is exactly what the cops should not have done. The two abductees were later arrested and taken to a jungle in Surya Binayak on the outskirts of Kathmandu where they were apparently shot dead in cold blood.
Since the police has thus far put out only a weak defense of its action, these allegations seem to have at least some truth. If so, the implications are disturbing. One, it suggests our police force is incapable of handling even routine abduction cases. The little boy’s life in this case could conceivably have been saved had the police not resorted such crude and juvenile threats against the abductees.
Two, the new penchant in the police for encounter killings hints that the cops think they are a law onto themselves. In this particular case, the two abductees were most likely killed because the police wanted to appear as heroes who punished, in the most brazen way possible, the killers of a small kid. In fact, in recent times there have been some other instances of such ‘encounters’ whereby the police have found it more expedient to shoot to death notorious criminals than to take them into custody.
Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, a former Maoist rebel, has apparently given the police a free hand to remove ‘rotten eggs’ of the society. The aim seems to be to strike terror in the hearts of criminals, make them so afraid they shudder even at the thought of committing a crime. He does not seem to care that giving the police such carte blanche makes police personnel liable to abuse their powers, to lead to grave human rights violations, and to promote a culture of impunity. The Nishan Khadka episode will hopefully serve as a cautionary tale. Justice dispended at the end of the barrel of a gun is no justice at all. Nor does trampling on due process make the police any more popular.
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