Government issues stern orders to stop possible protests against HoR dissolution; One year jail, upto 5 lakh fine for rule flouters

The government has instructed security bodies and all 77 District Administration Offices (DAOs) not to allow crowded activities in public places.

Home Secretary Maheshwar Neupane called an emergency security meeting on Saturday and instructed not to allow people to gather in public places, citing the probability that there could be protests against the decision taken by President Bidya Devi Bhandari to dissolve the House of Representatives (HoR).

With this directive of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), the government has started internal preparations to prevent possible street demonstrations of political parties and individuals against HoR dissolution.

The spokesperson for MoHA, Janak Raj Dahal, said that the security bodies and DAOs have been instructed to stop demonstrations in public places (if any occurs), crowded activities and disobedience to public health norms and traffic rules without permission.

The decision comes after the main opposition parties including the Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Center, Upendra-Yadav faction of Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal, Rastriya Janamorcha and Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of CPN-UML have announced to protest against HoR dissolution through political and legal means.

The meeting of MoHA was attended by Inspector General of Police Shailesh Thapa Kshatriya, Inspector General of Armed Police Shailendra Khanal, Chief of National Investigation Department Ganesh Prasad Adhikari and Chief District Officer of Kathmandu Kali Prasad Parajuli.

Home Secretary Neupane has instructed all security bodies not to allow any activity that goes against the response plan to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Spokesperson Dahal said that action will be taken against those violating the orders and prohibitions issued by the government in accordance with the provisions of the Ordinance on Prevention and Control of COVID-19.

“The Home Secretary has clearly instructed the security forces to take action against those who ignore the order issued during the pandemic and carry out activities such as gathering, protesting and crowding without permission. We have also issued a notice to all 77 local administrations to strictly implement the COVID-19 response plan,” said Dahal.

President Bhandari had issued the ordinance against the coronavirus pandemic ‘COVID-19 Crisis Management Ordinance 2078’ on Thursday.

The ordinance appoints the chief district officers (CDO) as the local response officer in all districts to implement the response plan against the pandemic and states that the District COVID-19 Management Committee will also fall under the coordination of CDOs.

Infectious Diseases Act, 2020, allowed a fine of Rs 100 or one-month imprisonment or both in violation of public health protocols.

The ordinance provisions authorities to impose a fine of Rs 2,000 on people riding two-wheelers and Rs 5,000 on four-wheeler drivers without permission, Rs 100 for not wearing a mask in public places and Rs 200 for people on the roads in violation of the prohibitory orders.

Authorities could also shut down an organization or businesses for six months if the latter acted against the prohibitory orders.

The new rules provision for imprisonment for up to one year or a fine of up to Rs 500,000 or both if any individual or business owners for obstructing the authorities’ work in preventing COVID spread.

Strict provision has also been made to charge a fine of up to Rs 100,000 to an individual and up to Rs 500,000 to an organization for violating the prohibitory orders issued by respective DAOs.

Failing to oblige by the prohibitory orders or obstructing authorities from carrying out their duty could result in imprisonment for up to 6 months or a fine of Rs 600 or both.

Home Secretary Neupane has directed security bodies to strictly implement these provisions of the ordinance.