The Home Ministry has defended the use of military to contain protests against proposed state delineation in the Tarai districts, arguing that the Local Administration Act of 1971 has the provision whereby a chief district officer (CDO) could take the help of Nepal Army (NA) in such cases.
Issuing a statement on Friday, the ministry justified the government’s decision to position NA soldiers in some of the riot-affected districts, claiming that the protesters were taking to violent activities like vandalism and arson, even murder of security personnel. As police could not contain the situation, the statement said, the concerned authorities took the help of NA .
The Article 6(B) of Local Administration Act states: “If it is deemed that a procession, mob or organised group with or without arm is likely to carry out violent or destructive acts such as looting, arson in houses or shops, destroying the public property, and it is reveled that such a situation is not controlled by the general police action, the Chief District Officer may declare such area as riot-affected and take assistance of Nepal Army as required to maintain peace and order.”
The government has come under criticism for “mobilising” army in areas, including Kailali district, to control growing violence instead of finding a political solution.
The NA on Thursday clarified that its soldiers were on the ground as an aid to the civilian authority as requested by the local administration, and that it should not be misconstrued as army mobilisation.
A two-year-old child and eight security personnel, including a senior superintendent of police, had died when Tharuhat activists clashed with police in Tikapur of Kailali district on Monday. Scores others were injured in the incident.
Meanwhile, Nepal Police has appealed to citizens to refrain from violence and maintain peace and order. It has also warned that those enciting communal riots and disrupting peace would be punished.
Apart from using children in enforcing strikes and vandalism, demonstrators, through news and social network, have published and circulated false information regarding the riots which could disrupt social harmony, police said in a statement on Friday.
These constitute violation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965, and are punishable by law, the statement read.