At a time when security forces are having to deal with violent protests and riots across the country, the government has initiated the process to procure anti-riot equipment worth one billion rupees for Nepal Police and Armed Police Force.
The Cabinet decided last week to buy modern anti-riot equipment worth around Rs 650 million for Nepal Police and Rs 350 million for Armed Police Force with a view to controlling riots with minimal damage to security forces. Some communication devices will also be procured for the National Investigation Department to help it in intelligence gathering.
Anti-riot equipment — crowd-controlling vehicles, shields, helmets, water cannons, teargas shells, protective jackets, barricades, communication devices — will be procured soon, according to Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Dhakal said the plan to equip the security forces was already on the cards, but MoHA took the decision last week after security forces became the target of a series of planned violent protests, mainly in Tarai districts.
Home Secretary Surya Silwal said given the urgent need for such equipment, the government had planned to acquire it as part of a direct government-to-government (G-to-G) deal with a foreign country.
According to him, the Cabinet has decided to seek quotations for such equipment from a few foreign embassies and he has already directed Nepal Police and Armed Police to get such quotations pronto. He, however, refused to disclose from which embassies the quotations were being sought.
“Such equipment not only helps control riots effectively, but will also save lives of our security forces, which have been performing riot-controlling duties in the absence of modern equipment,” Silwal added.
As per the Public Procurement Act, the government has to go for an open bidding process, which can take long. But if it needs something urgently, the government directly procures it on G-to-G basis after getting quotations from at least three foreign governments or their embassies.
Nepal Police Spokesperson DIG Kamal Singh Bam told The Himalayan Times that the police were making a list of the type and volume of equipment to be procured. “We are working on it. Once the amount is released, we would initiate the procurement process,” he added.
According to DIG Bam, police personnel were exposed to violent protests across the country and needed to shield themselves, as well as the general public, better.