Govt to ‘use force’ to keep highways open

The government has decided to adopt zero tolerance policy on highway obstructions and said it would use force, if necessary, to keep the lifeline open to ensure supplies.

 

In view of ongoing highway obstructions by protesters in the Tarai, the Ministry of Home Affairs has implemented a new security plan, directing authorities ‘to take strict measures to ensure smooth operation of the lifeline’.

 

“Strict directives have been given to ensure that the roads are open. If protesters obstruct the highways, security agencies will use strong force,” said Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, spokesperson for the home ministry.  The MoHA has asked Nepal Police, the Armed Police Force (APF) and the National Investigation Department to deploy additional personnel along the highways and ‘use maximum force if the situation demands.’

 

Implementing its reviewed integrated security plan on Tuesday amidst increasing protests in the Tarai, which have turned violent of late, the MoHA has classified nine districts —Sunsari, Siraha,  Saptari in the Eastern Region, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa—as ‘highly sensitive’ areas.

 

 

Around 12,000 Nepal Police forces and as many APF personnel as a supporting unit will be deployed in these nine districts. Other five districts - Morang, Rupandehi, Kapilbastu, Banke and Kailali - have been deemed ‘extra sensitive’ while Jhapa, Nawalparasi, Bardiya and Kanchanpur have been classified as ‘sensitive’ districts.

 

The Nepal Police headquarters and APF headquarters have already begun preparations to send additional forces to these districts.

 

“We have conducted assessments and the reserve force will be deployed as needed,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police Kamal Singh Bam, who is also the spokesperson for Nepal Police.

 

The new integrated security plan was developed after vehicles carrying essential drugs were torched by protesters while on Sunday a riot broke out in the wee hours of Sunday in Saptari where at least three protesters were killed when security forces ‘opened fire in self-defence’. After the incident, a meeting of the Central Security Committee headed by Minister for Home Affairs Shakti Basnet had decided to take stern measures to quell the violence