At a time when insecurity and crime rates are soaring in the Valley, on Friday residents were exposed to another form of terror as police vandalised property worth millions of rupees at the offices of eight cable operators. Claiming that the operators had been evading taxes, the police entered the control rooms armed with guns and proceeded to destroy expensive equipment-without any warning or search warrants.
A team of about 20-25 police raided the offices of eight cable tv networks at about 8PM on Friday, destroying and seizing valuable equipment. Kathmandu Valley saw a new form of terror, perpetuated by a state force intended to protect citizens against similar vandalism. Superintendent of Police Anand Ranjit led the raid without even informing the related Ministry or obtaining permission from his superiors at the police department. As a responsible officer, Ranjit should know that the police is not legally allowed to take any such action without permission from related offices such as the revenue department, Nepal Telecom or the electricity authority.
There are reasons to believe that Ranjit was motivated by his own disagreement with some of the cable operators, a theory that is supported by his actions later that night. Ranjit returned all the seized equipment without taking any legal action against the companies for the tax evasion charge he had earlier accused them of.
In a press statement about the issue, the police said their actions were based on a report filed by the Nepal Cable Television Association, but the association denies ever taking such action. Defending themselves against accusations of tax evasion, the cable tv operators are digging out papers and documents to show they've paid their tax and VAT dues.
Several small cable tv operators say that the police were bribed by a big operator to raid them. No specific name is given, but everyone knows who runs the largest cable tv operation in the country. Not long ago, the same cable company convinced SP Ranjit to raid Continental Marketing, the local official distributor for Sony, Setmax and Discovery channels-again without any official warrant.