KATHMANDU, April 10: The government has named Sarbendra Khanal new chief of the Nepal Police and Shailendra Khanal the new chief of the Armed Police Force.
A cabinet meeting held at Prime Minister KP Oli's official residence has chosen the chiefs of the two police forces a day before the heads of both organizations are due to retire, Minister for Labor and Employment Gokarna Bista told journalists while emerging from the meeting.
Sarbendra Khanal will lead the 72,733-strong police force responsible for maintaining law and order, for the next 21 months. Shailendra Khanal will lead the 37,000 paramilitary Armed Police Force. Established in 2001 to counter the Maoist armed insurgency, the paramilitary force is now focused on providing security to vital installations such as airports and telecommunications towers and on border security.
The terms of outgoing IGP Prakash Aryal and 15 additional inspectors general and nine DIGs expire on Wednesday. Likewise the terms of chief of the paramilitary force Singha Bahadur Shrestha and AIGs Prem Shahi and Prakash Ojha expire the same day.
The selection of the police chiefs had became a bone of contention between the two ruling coalition partners CPN (Maoist Center) which has the home portfolio and CPN-UML which leads the government. Given this friction, a cabinet meeting held earlier in the day had ended inconclusively.
DIGs Ramesh Kharel, Pushkar Karki and Dhiru Basnet were also in the race to lead Nepal Police and AIGs Shahi and Ojha were eying the coveted post of paramilitary force chief.
PM Oli was for picking Karki, who hails from Bhojpur, the home district of President Bidya Bhandari. Bhandari was reportedly lobbying the government for Karki .
Following differences over whom to pick as IGPs, Prime Minister Oli, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had held a separate meeting . On the occasion, they stressed the need of appointing the police chiefs quickly as further delay would not give out a “positive message to the public”.
Sarbendra Khanal, who joined the police in February 11, 1990 as an inspector was promoted to DIG last August and is currently leading the Traffic Police.
Khanal is known for his investigation skills. He is credited with successfully investigating the national football team's involvement in match fixing and taking a tough stance against organized crime and hooliganism. Notorious gangster Kumar Ghaite was killed in 2015 in a police encountered with the Metropolitan Crime Division when Khanal headed the division.