Police Brutality in Nepal: Madhesh bears the brunt

Protesters Take it to the streets even after prohibitory action in Bardibas, Mahottari followed by the rape of a six-year-old Pic: The Kathmandu Post

The socially ostracized, institutionally differentiated, politically misrepresented Madhesi are further subjected to injustice when they have to face police brutality at the smallest of the noise they make.

Ayusha Chalise, Kathmandu: On Wednesday, Nepal police provided security to pro-monarchy, pro-Hindu demonstrators in Pokhara, meanwhile, on Tuesday one person succumbed to death after being injured due to a gun wound in the protest against the rape of a six-year-old in Bardibas.

During the pandemic, when the lockdown was being enforced, Sambhav Swar Sirohiya reported from his IGTV about the police brutality in Nepalgunj against Madhesi people. 

The video includes statements from people who have been a victim of police brutality in the region wherein Sirohiya concludes that the differential treatment was based on the color of their skin, their socio-economic status, and gender.

Madhesi protesters at the East-West Highway demanding better constitutional representation
Pic: Human Rights Watch

Organizations like Human Rights Watch have long addressed the issue of police brutality and extrajudicial killings of many Madhesis throughout the year. In 2015, HRW issued a report titled, “Like We Are Not Nepali” they talk about how Nepal police have used extreme and indiscriminate force to contain people who did not possess threats.

While the Constitution of Nepal being drafted in 2015, 43 Madhesi people including women, children, and even police officers lost their lives (Madhesi Youths, 2015). The police as well as protestors were responsible for killing innocent people.

Avinash Mishra from Madhesi Youths, an independent body to fact check the mainstream media says,” Madhesi people generally feel very unsafe around Nepal Police.” 

Mishra said that late King Mahendra’s enforcement of cultural/ideological singularity in Nepal amplified the bias against Madhesi people living in proximity to India. “Madhesis are subjected to a deeper form of injustice because of the Indian component and how Nepali nationality thrives in the anti-India sentiment,” he added.

Mishra ground reporting during the Third Madhesh Movement in late 2015, witnessed blatant violence and racialism against protestors. Mishra himself has been pushed around when he questioned a policeman.

Madheshi during Madhesh Aandolan demanding their demands to be met
Pic: onlinekhabar.com

Nepal Police’s approach to settling disputes and handling protests are visibly different in different settings. In Kathmandu valley, the protestors are fired with water canons, in Pokhara pro-monarchy, pro-Hindu protesters are given protection while protesters in Madhesh are dispersed or settled with extreme measures such as firing shots and curfews.