28 Feb - 6 Mar 2014 #696

Supercop

Interview with SSP Ramesh Kharel, News24, 17 February

Dil Bhusan Pathak: The public calls you a supercop because you are not afraid to put notorious criminals behind bars. Ramesh Kharel: I cannot tolerate any criminal. And it is the responsibility of every policeman to jail criminals.

What about the ‘dons’ with political protection, who have received a lot of press recently. How do you deal with them?

Let’s not glamourise them. They are just petty thieves, no matter what they look like and what lifestyle they lead. They will always try to bend rules and it is unfortunate that politicians protect them. There are many people in the police force who fear the consequences of taking action against dons and feel such a move might affect their careers.

What exactly are these organised criminal groups involved in?

The groups are involved in rampant extortion in the name of various political parties, collecting levy by threatening people, using force to monopolise various businesses. Unfortunately, their connections also extend to the police force, which we need to break.

How has your experience been while dealing with such high profile criminals?

I am under tremendous pressure, but have never lost focus. There are many honest officers in our department who refuse to give in.

So is it the politicians running the goons or the other way round?

Unfortunately, goons have greater influence over politicians these days. They now have political ambitions because they have more power and money. Our society must be vigilant and not give criminals opportunity to make decisions that affect everyone.

But what if the future leadership of Nepal Police falters?

Times have changed. The chief of police cannot be replaced within days for simply having disagreeing with the home minister. We have the right to say no when the higher-ups try to interfere with our work. Also the public is more aware these days, our media and judiciary are stronger and we feel glad to have their support.

What are the reforms required within the police?

Change should start from the individual level. We need to treat everyone as equals before the law and maintain a zero tolerance policy for all kinds of criminals. We need to have better rules to modernise the police administration. If we are not able to live up to people’s expectations, it is because of our own shortcomings.

How did you develop this zero tolerance policy?

During a training session in India, the then chief election commissioner told us that if we wanted to earn money it would be better to do business. That philosophy still guides me.

How does it feel to have a movie based on you called SP Kharel?

It is matter of great honour not just for me, but the entire police force.

What about those who criticise you for clamping down on the capital’s night life?

Our vigilance increased because most illegal activities take place during the night in Kathmandu. We have no problem with businesses running 24/7 as long as they are regulated and are functioning within the limits of the law.

How has the public reacted to your time in office?

I am immensely grateful for the help and support that our well-wishers have shown. They contact me through email and even text messages, which inspires me to do my best.

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