Does freedom mean mobocracy in Nepal? Here’s a case in point  

nepali law and order

Law is enacted to regulate the behaviours of diverse actors in society. Those who violate or breach law and order are punished and fined to ascertain a situation of equality and peace. No one is above the law and it is equally applicable to all irrespective of different roles and positions in the institutions. But, as mobocracy in Nepal is on the rise, the rule of law is taking the backseat everywhere.

Mid-West University is one of the youngest universities in Nepal established in 2010. As in other institutions, the university leadership is supposed to be a custodian of the promotion of academic environment and autonomy regardless of ideological differences. But, there is a gap that can be taken as an example of mobocracy in Nepal.

A case in point

The executive council of the university conferred a responsibility of a programme director on me (Upendra Bahadur BK) on March 23, 2021. As the director, I created an enabling environment in terms of maintaining transparency and honesty in the entrance examination of the BALLB five-year programme.

In order to ensure quality, the mid-term and semester examinations were systematised following the exam rules and procedures of the university. The seminars and field-level studies were made an integral part of teaching-learning activities through the maintenance of collaboration with judges and experts of the law.

mobocracy and law in nepal
Representational image

But such kind of mobility irked interest groups of the students who wanted to promote mobocracy in Nepal. They put pressure on the director to withdraw from the decision. As the university authority implicitly ignored the director’s stance, it resultantly boosted the agitating mentality of the students against the management. The top leadership failed to protect teamwork.     

As a dispute over examination results got intensified, a crowd of students entered the programme director’s room and started tampering with the results. As a programme director, this writer apprised the arrogant students of the procedure of internal assessment. They did not listen to his decency and vandalising furniture and landline phone sets.

The director immediately inform the university authorities, but they did not act as expected, making this yet another example of the growing mobocracy in Nepal.

Absence of law

The indifference of university authorities made the director mentally and physically tortured. The mob of undisciplined students reached a peak where the letterhead of the School of Law was captured and the programme director was forced to tender his resignation.

Moreover, the resignation of the programme director was disseminated by forging his signature. The director three times dialled the cell number of his vice-chancellor, but he did not respond to him. But he responded to the calls made by Mahendra Shahi and Yubaraj Khadga who led to the mod of the infiltrated students when the director was around.

The vice-chancellor of the university framed an investigation committee ignoring a principle of estoppel that reveals a legal bar to alleging or denying a fact because of one’s own previous actions or words to the contrary.

mobocracy and law in nepal

But later, the investigation and negotiation committee reached an agreement with the so-called struggling students who wanted to promote mobocracy in Nepal to get the director to resign. During the negotiation, the chair and the members preconceived the resignation of a director to facilitate the students on rules and regulations of internal assessment.   

What next?

The removal of the director from responsibility is not accidental, but also a cumulative version of prejudice and biases by the VC and the dean concomitantly. In an open and transparent society, the expectation of patron-client relationships between the higher and lower ladders by the high-level authorities of the university is one of the symptoms of rising mobocracy in Nepal.

Now, the faculties affiliated with the university will be leading to a humdrum life losing their freedom and the endeavours towards research and innovation will be buried yielding creative and critical minds to the whims and constraints.

If the compromises keep on continuing, the mobocracy will govern the university and a state of impunity will be around the corner tremendously. Academic autonomy will be going down in the delta.

JD Krishnamurti mentions that emotions or sensations are natural, healthy and normal. But when thought takes over, all mischief begins.

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BK is a lecturer and the former program director at the School of Law at Mid-west University, Surkhet.      

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