Crime & Punishment

My day started with a picture of a young Nepali, lying in a hospital bed in Kathmandu. This man had been rescued by the local police who got there “in time” after the room he was in was set on fire by members of Milan Chakre’s infamous gang of criminals. His face and body parts suffered critical burns and are now a bluish black color, rendering him almost unrecognizable. What role did he play in Milan Chakre’s extortion scheme of 20 million rupees from the owners of Habitat Housing in Kathmandu? That he was a staffer there at the housing company, working hard to earn a little money in a big city.

This picture in today’s daily says a lot. Firstly, crime is rife in Kathmandu. In all forms and scale, from extortions to petty theft, crime has never gone away. Statistics reported by the police beg to differ but their numbers are based on cases that are reported to them. As people who live in Nepal or probably anywhere in South Asia would concur, the lion’s share of crime often goes unreported. This is probably because it is ingrained in the public’s psyche in these regions after their experiences with corrupt, ineffective government officials that nothing ever comes out of police reports, except perhaps retaliatory action from the criminals or defamation that they were involved in any type of crime.

But also because we are a people who for the most part pride ourselves on our ability to bear with injustice and inefficiency. No power at home? Shell out extra money from a thinning bank account to buy an inverter. No fuel to drive to work? Adjust and take a tempo and get in line when the tankers finally arrive. Mobile reception sucks? Find a spot where it does and bend over, crouch or sleep on the floor to get that one line of reception. But don’t complain, that would be inappropriate. Just adjust. “Nepal is a tiny Himalayan kingdom of smiling, happy people who don’t have much but are always smiling”, like dumbasses.

Secondly, Milan Chakre is in jail and the crimes being committed right now are by members of his gang on the outside. I could be wrong but these members are probably not in their fifties, who cough when they cuss and can’t run during a police chase because they have age induced knee problems. My guess is that the people involved are probably unemployed youth who’d happily do a respectable 9 to 5 gig if they got one. Additionally, these youth are probably not from Kathmandu and most probably came to the city to try and earn a living. What started out as a job hunt probably ended in frustration, leading to petty crimes and then finally gang related crimes as they got addicted to the easy money. It’s not exactly a case of a section of society that’s inherently evil, that refuses to work and enjoys crime but of a large section of our society who are unemployed and are forced to resort to crime as an alternative to getting the means to their basic needs.

Thirdly, when did Kathmandu turned into Colombia or Bihar? Burning up people to prove a point? I thought that happened only in Tarantino’s B grade movies or Bollywood flicks glamorizing the grim crime scene in Bihar. To think this happened in Kathmandu and that it could have happened to any staffer going about his day, doing his chores at any large company is just appalling. What if your boss or mine don’t pay the amount demanded by Chakre’s gang and we end up on that hospital bed, charred and probably even handicapped for life?

I am not the expert here on how to deal with such criminals if and when they are arrested. An eye for an eye apparently turns a nation blind. But for a nation full of people who look away and shirk responsibility until they are directly affected, something radical would do it. Perhaps a public, painful execution by the state would send a dual message. One to the criminals saying something along the lines of – as you sow, so shall you reap and two, to the public to try and get back some of the respect that the state has squandered away over the years.

Maybe I’m wrong, but if you were that guy lying in that bed or if he was your brother, father, uncle whoever, wouldn’t YOU want something that sends out a chilling message to the guilty?

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7 thoughts on “Crime & Punishment

  1. good analysis of some really disturbing trends in KTM, and Nepal more generally

    i remember having a heated discussion at work some time ago about whether we could use the word ‘Biharisation’ in a report (and even if ‘Biharisation’ is a word!!)

    Oh – and DO check out NEpaliketi’s link, Urooj Zia does some amazing investigative reporting

    • thank you. is americanisation a word? and is it used in reports? i’ve certainly heard it a lot. if yes, biharisation shouldnt be an issue.

      i checked out the zia piece. really well done. 🙂

  2. Have you flipped? Tarantino’s B grade movie? that’s blasphemy, mate!

    But each to his own.
    Very well written piece.

    check out Dhintang.com. You’d be mighty surprised.

    • haha not flipped yet utsav dai.
      by b grade movies, i met the awesome grindhouse – tarantino’s homage to b grade slasher/action movies.
      not dissing tarantino at all, that’d be blasphemy indeed. 🙂

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