Maili Gurung,45, a resident of Dhumpus Village, a famous tourist village 30 kilometers northwest of Pokhara, the western tourist city of Nepal, has reason to be happy -- there is a new police unit with all modern facilities including separate space to deal with women related violence.
Although a number of incidents related to violence against women are rarely reported to police, it is estimated that these types of incidents against women are increasing due to alcoholism and gambling.
“As there was no separate room for women police, women victims had no option other than to tolerate violence and suppression. We were settling such matters through community meditation. Once the police station becomes operational with separate women police to listen to us, then more women will open up their mouths,” said Gurung.
Along with women, men are also happy. “With the construction of the police units, the normalcy has come back to the village. New branches of banks and new hotels have been constructed here,” said Dal Bahadur Gurung, chairman of Construction Committee of Police Post.
Out of 159 police posts and units destroyed during the insurgency in the western region, the construction of 59 units have already been completed and 26 are under construction. As the reconstruction of the police posts and units is under way, this has instilled a drastically different sense of peace and security among the people.
“After destruction of the police units in the Maoist attack in 2001 and removal of the police station, many people left the villages due to insecurity. Banks and cooperatives were transferred to Pokhara,” said Gurung. “Now everything is right on track.”
Dhumpus is not alone to see the return of normalcy and peace following the construction of the buildings, including the police posts and police units, but also the reconstruction of service delivery offices including DDC, VDC and District Administrative Offices.
Take the case off Putali Bazar, district headquarter of Syangja District, 250 kilometers west of Capital Kathmandu. After a major assault by Maoists in 2002, major buildings including DDC, District Police Office and some complexes of District Administrative Office were partially or fully destroyed.
For long, these institutions had been providing ad hoc service delivery from rented houses or the partially damaged buildings. This affected the quality of service delivery as well as haunted the minds of the local people.
"The reconstruction of damaged buildings has helped to improve the service delivery and hastened the return of normalcy as well as helping to heal the wounds of people as the buildings were reconstructed with the involvement of all the political parties and community members,” said Bharat Prasad Luitel, administrative officer of Syangja District Administration office. “It is interesting that there is an active participation of both Maoists and other parties in the reconstruction of the buildings.”
With the reconstruction of District Police Office and certain portion of District Administrative Office with all basic amenities, the face of district headquarter has changed. With all basic amenities within the modern buildings, Syangja District Police office is also gender sensitive.
Constructed under the financial support from Peace Trust Fund, the newly built police units and police posts will provide enough physical facilities to the police personnel working in the remote parts of Nepal. As all buildings have separate facilities for women police to deal with the incidents related to domestic violence, this is likely to reduce the women related violence in rural parts of Nepal.
Out of 768 police units and posts, over 60 percent buildings have already been completed. As Nepal Police bore a heavy loss in terms of human resources and infrastructure during the decade long conflict, it is now receiving priority.
“We are very happy to say that the newly reconstructed police posts will enhance the capabilities of police personnel. As the buildings are sensitive to women, these will definitely help to reduce the incidents related to violence against women,” said DIG Bam Bahadur Bhandari, chief of western regional police office. “Rehabilitation and reconstruction of police posts also has enhanced the sense of security among the people. After the completion of reconstruction, we can see a lot of similar reconstruction work in the areas.”
On visiting the areas, one can realise how the public feels an increased sense of security, particularly the women. Most of the people living in the areas feel that they are secure. As the reconstruction is completed with support from the community, it has improved the relations of police personnel and public.
The reconstruction and rehabilitation work is going on through two different mechanisms. Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction has been supporting the reconstruction of DDCs, VDCs and other service delivery offices destroyed during the conflict. The Ministry is also providing relief to the victims of conflict.
However, Nepal Peace Trust Fund, a consortium of Nepal’s development partners and Nepal government, has been supporting reconstruction of police units and posts under security and transitional justice system. Similarly, NPTF is also supporting strengthening Local Peace Committees with bottom up approach and other programs.
As there is a fast track method to release funds, Nepal Peace Trust Fund’s mechanism is more effective and efficient compared to other institutions. “We have been receiving the budgets for our reconstruction regularly and in a timely manner in all three phases,” said DSP Ishwor Thapa.
“We are pushing the reconstruction process through two different modalities. Along with 7000 various government units, 768 police units were destroyed during the decade long conflict. In the first phase, out of 100 units planned, 85 have completed. Similarly, a number of police units were reconstructed in the second phase. Nepal Peace Trust Fund is supporting the reconstruction of the Police Units in 65 districts. With collaboration of local community and technical support of Nepal Police, NPTF is now currently working to reconstruct 77 police posts in the third phase. As the reconstruction and rehabilitation of those destroyed infrastructure are the mandate of the ministry, it is supporting the reconstruction of other infrastructure like DDC buildings, VDC buildings and other administrative units,” said Sadhuram Sapkota, director of Nepal Peace Trust Fund Secretariat and Joint Secretary at Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction.
“Over 40 percent of the reconstruction work has almost completed. We are working to complete the remaining 60 percent of construction work. As there is a fast track approach, more progress is seen in the reconstruction work done through Nepal Peace Trust Fund. There is no lack of funds during the construction.”
As the reconstruction and rehabilitation aspect of the peace process see progress, Nepal has entered into another stage of peace process. Nepal is now in a phase of consolidation of peace. “This is the time to reinforce and sustain the achievement made in the peace process,” said Sapkota.
As Nepal has already completed the most complex issue of integration and initiated several other packages including compensation for the victims and reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed during the conflict and passing Reconciliation and Disappearance Commission Act, Nepal is in the final stage of the peace process.
With the support from Nepal’s development partners through the Nepal Peace Trust Fund, Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation has shown that it can make a difference by restoring hope of peace in Nepal. Equally important in the reconstruction is giving a sense of confidence among the people and supporting the process of establishing a sustainable peace.
The experiences of Dhumpus and Syangja have shown how collaborative efforts of community, development partners and government can make differences in the life of Nepalese people in achieving the sustainable peace.