Two youths came speeding on a motorcycle. They wanted to cross the road first but seeing them at a comfortable distant, I quickly crossed the road. But the youths, who could not tolerate me crossing first, were itching to hit me. The desire for vengeance was seen in their lips. Leaping to my defense would have landed me in hospital but I stammered an apology and ran away.
On another occasion, a gang-fight was going on. A group of passers-by was watching the scene huddled together in a corner when one of the gang members hurled a knife and threatened to kill them for watching them. Then there was another muscular man who spun his punch in front of our nose. He was itching to hit us and was in spitting distance. Holding the hands of their wives and kids, the onlookers ran as fast as their legs could hold. Fear must have given them the wings, for they seemed to fly rather than just run. Before the man turned against me, I ran for my life. After completing a hundred meter sprint, I looked back when I saw one among the gang racing behind me, tripped over something and fell with a thud! By then I was already at a comfortable distant. If only someone had kept a time recorder, I’d have broken quite a few records in the hundred meter race.
The sensation to fight, harm, or even murder is high in new Nepal. Even trivial matters break into bloody quarrels and men fell upon each other ferociously like beasts. Sometimes, these young men, drunken with the joy of liberty, are engaged in drunken brawl. Oh, they are born with this incurable disease.
In the new Republic of Nepal, everyman seems to have an enemy. A son kills his father for Rs 500 and parents kill their daughter for no apparent reason. No wisdom of counsel would ever work in this country.
Frequently, fights go on in streets or public places. Before the fight start, they examine their opponent from neck to ankle and their capacity to fight. And, if found weaker, they must be beaten. In the course that follows those with muscles rule the day. New Nepal’s problems are manifest in its concept of utopian liberty.
Liberty of the subject with unlimited powers to the people is fraught with problems: That all men are equal before the law but not all are governed by it, some are even licensed to kill. This notion of liberty is dangerous. This is the manifest after the fall of monarchy, equated with God – the all-powerful bestower of liberty. When the liberty of the king got transformed into absolute liberty of common men, and when man suddenly broke the chains he was confined to, it unleashed a great change in his beliefs and mental faculties but not so much in terms of his in life conditions. The desire of men to attain prosperity and fame nevertheless becomes pressing when they are liberated.
Desire, ambition and lust for power are the manifestations of the recent political crisis in Nepal. For the kings, political party leaders, persons of high-rank and name and fame in this country, because of the tensions created by the struggle for power between them, because of their riches and their striving for further richness, are in continual jealousy. In the posture of Armageddon and Gladiators, and in their fiery eyes fixed on one another, party leaders are pointing their lethal weapons to each other for all they want is power. Neither Tom, nor Dick or Harry will live quiet until he has thrashed the other in the race for power.
The example of which is : The year was 2006; the 19-day-long protest in April ended the rule of 204-year-old monarchy in Nepal. The citadel of power hitherto rested on a single sovereign authority, the king, but when he was ousted by the groups, who combined into a number of complicated political entities, it took yet another sinister posture of war between them. What followed is a long-drawn-out struggle for power, in which no side has ever been able to become victorious. In a mobocracy like this, there can be no single champion but a multiple of them. They harbor hatred and jealousy of each other and collisions are frequent. This struggle for power in Nepal has continued since the 1950s, with higher degree of intensity. Such a state of perpetual struggle for power reflects that men are governed more by passion than reason and conscience. Thus, every one fights with everybody else.
When the sovereign ceases to exist and when the law of nature crumbles down under its weight of contradictions, degeneration of society sets in. And as man grows up under a different set of civil laws, the stronger ones dissociate with the natural laws to dominate others and claim all powers.
The fundamental law of nature and the general rule of reason is that when the war and conflict take their course in a country, the common people, the weaker ones, yearn for peace. The rich or the powerful (those cited above with strongly-built arms) have no dearth of peace for it can be bought like commodities or fought with fists. The war only affects the poor – the farmers, factory workers, laborers, beggars and all those living on the edge of poverty. It is this category of men who hit the street in protest for whose sentiments and passions can easily be exploited by powerful ones for achieving their purpose. The April 2006 revolution in Nepal is the same wind that blew all over the Western industrialized nations in the 17th, 18th and 19th century struggle for democracy but is far from settling down. And as the established law was rendered helpless and defunct and the newly emerging political elites engaged in power struggle fail to enforce law and order, nobody feared being penalized.
Consider this: Some men, on receiving a ransom, abducted and murdered a schoolboy who was going to school. The boy’s mother cried while her relatives placed their consoling arms around her – a sight we had seldom caught before.
Impunity thrives in Nepal since the Maoist conflict began in 1996, for the war ruined the established law and institutions violently without any fear of penalty. Men, unhappy with the state or those greed and avarice of power, money and wealth, quickly followed such actions as it yielded quick results through unlawful means. After the restoration of democracy and the fall of monarchy, political parties of all hue and color started giving shelter to dreaded criminals. These criminals, enjoying political patronage, even sawed the throats of babies suckling mothers’ milk.
The post-1990 democratic experiments in this country bred many such intimidating persons who have practically no honor and no conscience. Men are involved in kidnapping as a profession to make quick bucks and judges free criminals and abductors on very low bail instead of sentencing them to jail terms (See Republica, Nov 26, 2010). A teenage girl was abducted and tore into many parts in June 2009 after a criminal secured a hefty ransom. The girls’ head, bones and limbs were collected from four different parts of the country, something that hadn’t happen in the living memory of Nepalis (Republica, Jun 23, 2009). Men even pursued their victims to the end of the world, and murdered them.
While I didn’t know much about the judicial system in what every citizen called a ‘lawless country’, I have read in Nagarik (October 7, 2010) that even the courts in Nepal have transgressed the bounds of decency by freeing criminals on bail. Once they were unchained and let loose, these criminals went on doing more abductions and murders. Such decisions have provided the incentives for the breakdown of law and order.
When the sovereign ceases to exist and when the law of nature crumbles down under its weight of contradictions, degeneration of society sets in. And as man grows up under a different set of civil laws, the stronger ones dissociate with the natural laws to dominate others and claim all powers. Seeing no other men great enough to endanger him, he resorts to all unlawful means to acquire power, wealth and prestige. The weakest, who still live by the state of nature -- invoking upon his god, the supernatural being -- strives for a position and progress at the same rate that his powerful counterpart sets upon. But finding that they are not available to him on the same parlance, he becomes itching to fight, breaking the law with impunity. A few or more of these groups would resort to murder and theft. But when many of these men group together, peace is nowhere to be found.
The first two paragraphs of this article gave me some lively imageries in my mind and had me in stitches because of the way the writer has explained his first hand experiences.
I think the best way to end the sense of impunity from the bad guys is by ensuring the strict punishments for their crimes and maintaining good governance and political stability. They are the collective penacea for many other social ills too.