Prime Minister Sharma K.P. Sharma Oli has been saying that this government has no intention to contain the rights of people and his government is committed to protect the freedom and rights of the people and press.
However, this is not the case so far looking at the decision taken by Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa. If the recent decision taken by Home Ministry is any indication, it shows that this government is encroaching the rights of individuals, civil society and free press.
A month ago, Ministry of Home Affairs issued a 18-points guideline aimed to restrict the mobility of NGOs and INGOs. Following strong opposition from civil society organizations and Nepal’s development partners, the government has withdrawn it. As a member of UN and signatory to Social Development Goals and several international conventions, the government has to facilitate the NGOs and INGOs in development.
Then the Ministry of Home Affairs announced another decision banning the public meeting at seven different places in the core city areas. Although people did not take sides on NGOs guideline, the home ministry’s announcement has sparked a new confrontation.
Opposition Nepali Congress and Bibeksheel Sajha party picked up this agenda, organizing a series of meetings to defy it. Later on even human rights groups and civil society organizations joined the protest.
The wrath of Ministry of Home Affairs against freedom does not last here. Just a week ago Home Ministry announced another decision to restrict the mobility of the people inside central secretariat Singh Durbar.
According to the Ministry, they are preparing a plan under which home ministry will control entire mobility in Singh Durbar saying individuals will not be allowed to visit one office in a day. This sparks another controversy with immediate opposition from media organizations terming it as a decision to bar free press.
Just last week, Professor Dr. Kul Prasad Koirala, vice chancellor of Nepal Sanskrit University, was barred from boarding a flight to Canada. He was taken to Prime Minister’s residence from Tribhuwan International Airport when he was boarding a flight.
Just few days ago, an orthopedic surgeon from Bir Hospital was taken to Ministry of Home by force pressuring him to issue a certificate as a person with disability to a Maoist cadre who is fit.
Among all others, the decision to unilaterally table the Medical Bill has further added oil in the fire. With a demand to withdraw the bill, Dr. Govinda KC is in hunger strike in Jumla, Karnali Province. Although the government is able to break the hunger strike of Gangamaya Adhikari following agreement, Dr. K.C’s hunger strike is yet to see any solution.
Nepali Congress has already asked the government to fulfill the demand of Dr. KC presenting the medical bill as per his demand. Members of Civil society and medical practitioners have been launching campaigns favoring Dr. KC’s demand.
“If the government does not fulfill the demand of Dr. K.C, the government will have to pay a higher price,” said former vice chancellor of Tribhuwan University Kedar Bhakta Mathema. “We will not allow this government to be negligent about the health of people.”
Main opposition Nepali Congress has already announced that it will stop the proceedings of the House of Representatives. However, the government has shown no sign to flexibility.
“We are ready to talk with Dr. KC. For this, he needs to come to Nepal in healthy conditions. Dr. KC needs to withdraw his hunger strike and start negotiations with the government,” said Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Minister of Education.
With two thirds of majority in its hand and broader vision for the prosperity of Nepal, this is the time for the government to work proving that this government is committed to liberal democracy, freedom of press and individual liberty. However, all of its recent activities justify main opposition party’s charges that this government is heading to an authoritarian rule against freedom and liberty.