The police station and elections

This is the police station. Just above the school. About a dozen men. They are usually out on patrol. I’d hoped to catch a group picture, but no luck.

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The previous police station was burned down by the Moaists. The Maoists blew up the station in the next village; robbed a bank in Dhankuta, – shot someone. They “extorted”, they would say, “taxed” the rich people in Yaku. They came to homes with guns and demanded rice, … I’m not sure what else. They targeted families actively supporting the government. No one in Yaku was actually hurt, I’m told.

Now, the Police are back. A strong presence. Lots of community involvement. There’s an officer who cuts villagers hair, excellently, for free. Their main intervention since the end of hostilities has been dealing with alcohol induced violence.

As you see, very low key. No machismo; no show of weapons; no intimidation. But, I’m sure, very effective. The post chief described a murder investigation and arrest, at his previous post, matter of fact, detailed.

*************

Here’s some reflections on what I learned about the recent election. Just words.

It appears that Nepal has successfully negotiated the transition from their Maoist revolution to a working democratic government. The recent election was, by all accounts, – that is, everyone I’ve talked with, successful. The Maoists won the first election, but then couldn’t govern because they splintered into three groups. One of those was old style anti democratic, and tried to disrupt the recent election by threatening to attack vehicles that moved around the time of the elections. They did burn some busses and cars. I was surprised that more than 60% of registered voters voted. I’m still trying to understand how so many people were able and willing to go to their home villages and vote when for a week before the election virtually all transportation stopped. Including airplanes.

And nearly everyone I speak with seems solidly optimistic. That ‘s a big change. Of course, there’s optimism just after an election, but I do think Nepal is on it’s way to a stable, functioning democracy, rather than a failed state, as many of us feared.

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