Home Ministry faked number plate
BY KOSH RAJ KOIRALA
KATHMANDU, Feb 9 – The Home Ministry is the highest civilian authority for enforcing law and order. But what if the ministry itself fakes the number plates of its vehicles?Photojournalist of the Post, Bikash Karki, caught two vehicles with exactly same private number plates queuing up bumper to bumper at the Nepali Army’s Bhadrakali gas station on Thursday afternoon. Karki promptly took a picture of the two vehicles — a silver-grey Nissan SUV and a blue Maruti.
But that was just the beginning of the story. After all, the picture was too interesting to be published without an accompanying story. Thus began the inquiry.
Records at Bagmati Zonal Transport Management Office (BZTMO) showed that the number plate — Ba 3 Cha 5810 — belonged to a blue Maruti car owned by Sharada Shah of Kathmandu Metropolitan City-35. Evidently, the number plate of the SUV was forged.
The driver of the SUV had told photojournalist Karki that the vehicle belongs to the Home Ministry. When this scribe reached the ministry the vehicle was nowhere to be found. Drivers of other vehicles at the ministry expressed ignorance about the vehicle in question. But one of them suggested that officials at the Police Personnel Records Office would know about the vehicle if it did indeed belong to a government office. He even suggested that one Puspa Shrestha could possibly know about the vehicle.
As luck would have it, the scribe caught up with Shrestha at the office compound waiting for a vehicle to take him home. Even without looking at the records Shrestha said the vehicle belonged to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).
The scribe rushed to MoCTCA. Bingo! The vehicle was parked in front of the main gate. A driver at the ministry informed that the SUV was being used by the secretary at the ministry, Madhav Prasad Ghimire.
Ghimire himself was surprised to discover that the number plate of his vehicle was forged. “I know nothing about this and I have been using the vehicle only since the last three days.”
Officials at MoCTCA said the vehicle initially belonged to the Second Tourism Infrastructure Development Project. Upon completion of the project, the Home Ministry had taken the vehicle for its own use during the conflict and changed its official number –Ba 1 Jha 5810 — to a fake private number–Ba 3 Cha 5810.
“I was unaware about these things. I will change to the original number by tomorrow [Friday],” said a visibly embarrassed Ghimire.
Officials at Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD), Ramshahpath, said a large number of government vehicles are still using private number plates, many of them fakes.
Jagat Man Shrestha, Deputy Superintendent of Police at MTPD, said they have asked the government to stop using private numbers on government vehicles. Stating that the concerned authorities have not heeded their request so far, Shrestha said, “Among other things, such use of fake numbers causes difficulties while carrying out investigations of traffic accidents.”
The government started using private number plates on government vehicles after the Maoists increasingly targeted such vehicles during the insurgency.
Baman Prasad Neupane, spokesperson at the Home Ministry, denied having forged any vehicle number. “If the number has indeed been forged, it’s illegal,” said Neupane. “We had changed the numbers with due process during the conflict period. Such numbers will be gradually changed now.”
Posted on: 2007-02-08 20:53:34 (Server Time)