Madhesi activist claims discrimination and gross misconduct of security at Nepal’s international airport

September 17, 2010 at 4:19 am Leave a comment

Madhesi activist claims discrimination and gross misconduct of security at Nepal’s international airport

February 3, 2010

— By Mikeldunham

Ordinarily, I don’t publish unverified accusations leveled against Nepal’s security forces, although I have received them often enough in the past.  I’m making an exception today and posting the following appeal because:

1) the accuser is fairly high-profile

2) this is a critical moment for the Nepali government and Tribhuvan International Airport’s security. Recently, the subcontinent has been place on high alert for terrorist infiltration and Nepal cannot afford to be identified as the loose link in South Asian security measures. The Nepali government is already waffling on India’s request to allow air marshals on those Indian aircraft landing in Kathmandu – an absurd stance fueled by ill-advised hyper-nationalistic sentiments.

If the accusation is true, the government should immediately rectify its sloppy response to international concerns by replacing sub-standard personnel at the airport. There are many extremely capable men and women in Nepal’s police force who can handle this important assignment with vigilance, sobriety and intelligence.

If the accusation is false, I welcome readers’ evidence to the contrary.

Santosh Shah’s allegations dated February 1, 2010

I faced racial discrimination and intimidation by police personnel at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.

When I crossed the main entrance gate of Tribhuvan International Airport Kathmandu, 1st February at 9.45pm, as the usual routine the Security personnel past the entrance asked me for my passport/tickets. I said that I had come to airport to pick up an important guest from abroad arriving at 10.30pm by China Southern Airlines. I produced my Press ID Card issued by the Department of Information, Ministry of Information and Communications. The police denied my entry. I requested that since the guest is a woman and since it’s really late in the night, its important that I go and receive her. Then I even produced my ID Card of the United Nations, Kathmandu. The police, three of them gathered by now, asked me to step out of the taxi, asked me to pay the taxi and asked the driver to vanish. They looked at my IDs, and didn’t seem to be able to read them well. The scene was intimidating, with three armed police personnel in the barren street – I said them that I hold a respectable position in society and knew their high ranking officers at Airport and at Police Headquarter. The head among the three; with 1-star on his uniform shouted out to me “Of course, you f*### Madhise have such contacts and respect. Dial the number to whomever you want, and I will see how you go in.” I told him “You know that no one will lift a call at this late hour, and you are going to have your racial take on me”. He smelled drunk. These are the three guys responsible for the entry and exit of all the incoming and outgoing vehicles, trespassers etc. into the International and Domestic Airport of Kathmandu. The head police among the three wasn’t wearing his name plate; when I asked him for his name; he refused to give his name and said  – “This is point no 13”. And then he told me – “You want to see my power, see!” He allowed at least half a dozen of vehicles pass through without checking their documents or ID.

Since I didn’t use any foul word and maintained my politeness; that avoided any possible assaults. The guy was drunk and had already committed several offenses in front of me including allowing people to enter without checking; I already felt intimidated – I thought the best solution was to walk back. I walked down to the main road, ring road, and saw another cab by the open waiting area at the main airport entrance. Since the area was empty, dark and quiet, and Kathmandu isn’t that a safe place; I convinced the taxi driver to wait for me and my guest. My guest called me from the airport and I directed her to walk all the way down to highway. This was definitely not an easy thing for her to do. Fortunately she made it to the main road and I dropped her.

Normally, I use my office vehicle and have my securities maintained. I go to this airport at least a hundred times a year. So, this was quite an odd, rater revealing experience for me. If a public face of one of Nepal’s leading channel has to face this at the international airport; what must be the fate of an ordinary citizens in rural backdrops of Terai where the monitoring of security surveillance does not surface out.

I am taking it seriously as this is not just a racial discrimination or security intimidation, but it also shows how vulnerable our International Airport is due to some drunk and lunatic security personnel. Our International Airport has the history of an Indian Airlines hi-jack by Taliban a decade ago. Every month we hear issues of human trafficking, drugs trafficking and smuggling of counterfeit currencies and illegal animals’ parts. The security entrance of this airport is guarded by three police, who are:

–       Drunk and on duty

–       don’t wear their name badges

–       can’t read an ID Card issued by the Government and UN agencies

–       look at the ID of a passer-by facial reading, with racial discriminations

–       fail to recognize their own senior officers in the police command

–       allow a dozen vehicles to enter without a check to show-off his power to a journalist.

This is a serious security threat to the airport and an intimidation to tourists arriving at midnight at a barren airport.

This is not the first time that I am facing a racial discrimination; but this is the first time I am facing this level of intimidation and that too from a civil servant. According to the article 13 of interim Constitution of Nepal, racial discrimination is a punishable act. And in this case its committed by the protector of the law; the Police personnel stationed at International airport.

I am preparing to approach the concerned government, civil and international authorities for justice.

For phone-calls/information: Santosh Shah, President, Today’s Youth Asia, Kathmandu. Anchor, POWER TALKS TV Show. Panelist, United Nations Youth Advisory Panel, Nepal. Mobile: +977-98510-91562.



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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