As the date for the first phase of national and provincial elections approaches, with an increase in violent activities all over Nepal, the pressure on Nepal Army has grown.
For the last two weeks, Nepal Army has mobilized special bomb disposal teams, almost every day, to defuse the explosive devices planted in different parts of the country.
With a heavy risk involved in the disposal of the explosives, Nepal Army personnel are putting their life at risk in the service of the nation. Nepal Army has been supporting the civilian authorities to hold the national elections over the last several years.
As soon as the government announced the election date for national and provincial parliaments, an additional task was added to Nepal Army as well.
Chief of Army Staff General Rajendra Chhetri directed all the battalions of Nepal Army to be vigilant over the growing violent activities in Nepal. Although other security agencies are also there, Nepal Army is seen in major parts of the election process.
Initially, Nepal Army provided security during the printing of ballot paper. After the completion of this task, Election Commission requested Nepal Army for use of its helicopter to carry the ballot papers in different remote parts of the country.
In a high-level Election Security Committee meeting, Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Ayodhee Prasad Yadav expressed his confidence that Nepal Army is capable to provide security to the political leaders, candidates, and voters while working alongside other security agencies.
Under a security work plan, Nepal Army will take the responsibility to provide security in the outer rings or first tiers. Nepal Army will provide its air support to carry ballot boxes to the district headquarters and transport all necessary election materials in the constituency.
With a strong security arrangement in place, Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Yadav is confident of smooth security. Dr. Yadav said that the plan of action of Nepal Army, Armed Police Force Nepal and Nepal Police, made in the local level polls, has assured all regarding the success of the upcoming polls.
The poll panel added that the counting of the second phase of elections slated for December 7 would start on the same day but after all ballot boxes of the constituencies were brought to the office of the respective chief returning officers or returning officers.
As the first phase of elections will be held in 32 mountainous and remote hilly districts and the second phase will be held in 45 hilly and Tarai districts, Nepal Army’s battalions have already been mobilized accordingly.
“Chief returning officers and returning officers can start counting votes if all political parties agree to the same even if ballot boxes of some polling centers are on the way to counting centers.”
EC Information Officer Surya Prasad Aryal said ballot boxes of the first phase of elections would be kept under adequate security. “Nepal Police will provide security to ballot boxes. The help of Nepal Army and Armed Police Force can be taken if political parties think it is necessary,” said Aryal. All ballot boxes would be kept in secure rooms and consensus would be forged whether all parties would place their own padlocks or single padlock on the EC.
“Nepal Army has been providing all the necessary support to hold the elections in a peaceful atmosphere. We have been providing our air service to transport ballot boxes and other materials,” said spokesperson of Nepal Army Brigadier General Nain Raj Dahal.
As a credible and trustworthy national security agency, Nepal Army has been in high demand in conducting free and fair polls in the country.