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Editorial: Where’s the state?

Editorial: Where’s the state?
Remember February 13, 2023? We appear to have a very short memory, so asking this question becomes all the more necessary. For those who remember, the day comes as a rude shock.

Why wouldn’t it?

After all, that was the day when there was a total breakdown of law and order in the Capital, broad daylight. That day, a mob descended at the Gongabu bus park area, vandalized a temporary police beat along with two patrol vans, rampaged and looted a mobile phone store, while transporters were staging a protest against increase in penalty for traffic rule violations and for fulfillment of other ‘cherished’ demands of theirs. Where was the law enforcement while all this mayhem and violence was going on unabated at a nerve center of the country? Or rather, where was our all-powerful state? A state that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring a very comfy existence for its VIPs and VVIPs by providing pay and perks galore, all with the taxpayer’s hard-earned money. A state that takes the security of this privileged lot quite seriously, whether it’s off the road or on it, with security detail that does not give two hoots to the inconvenience of the commoners. A state that unleashes its brute force even against those, who are on emergency duty, for the sake of ‘security’ of members of our powerful political elite, whizzing past crowded roads on motorcades equipped with security detail. Where on earth was the state on that day? On that day, when the artery called the Ring Road partially shut and strained the Capital’s mass transit system, causing much inconvenience to the public, where was the state? Where was the state when terror reigned supreme? In deep slumber? And what on Earth were all those ride-sharing companies doing by going offline when the public needed them the most? Was it not the state’s duty to ensure that they run their services? For members of the gullible public, who were on the site on that fateful day or who watched the horror unfolding on the screen, this total breakdown of law and order brought back the horrors of a civil war. But it was peacetime, right? Fast forward February 16. Police have arrested a couple of individuals accused of involvement in the incident after orders from the government. What propelled the youths to take the law in their own hands? A culture of impunity, despair or something else? And what exactly happened to the law enforcement’s chain of command? Last but not the least, where was our all-powerful state on that fateful day? The government investigation should find a definitive answer to this question, among others, and make the report public instead of keeping it under wraps.