Kathmandu, December 24
Inspector General of Police Sarbendra Khanal today failed to shed more light on Nirmala Panta’s rape and murder mystery case.
Addressing a periodic press meet organised by the security organisation at its headquarters in Naxal, IGP Khanal tried his best to deflect questions raised by journalists about developments on Panta’s case. Khanal used 45 minutes of the hour-long meet to convey achievements made by the security organisation last year.
The IGP stunned journalists while responding to queries saying, “Journalists might have gathered more information on the case than police.” He admitted that lapse were made by the police in finding out culprit(s) during the initial days of the incident. “We have our top experts investigating the issue. We cannot say anything for sure and how much progress on the case had been made.”
He further said police was studying the report filed by a probe committee formed to carry out investigation over the role of police officials involved in the investigation of Nirmala’s murder incident. A report was submitted to IGP Khanal on December 18. “We will take all necessary action, be it departmental or criminal, against all those who botched up investigations based on the investigation committee’s report.” A probe committee led by Additional Inspector General Dhiru Basnet was formed on September 16.
Recently, police had arrested 19-year-old Pradeep Rawal of Kanchanpur from Kathmandu suspecting his possible involvement in Nirmala’s rape and murder. According to a police source, IGP Khanal himself had interrogated Rawal and he had briefed the Home Ministry that some headway into investigation was made.
Police spokesperson Uttam Raj Subedi had also expressed confidence that they were narrowing down the investigation and could come out with a definitive result any time soon. However, 150 days after the incident police are yet to arrest the real culprit(s). This has stirred anger across the nation against the security organisation.
Nirmala had disappeared on the afternoon of July 26 after visiting her classmate Aachal Bam, aka Roshani. Nirmala’s mother had visited police station that evening to file a complaint regarding her missing status, but no complaint was registered, according to a government report. Her body was found at around 9:00am in a sugarcane field the next day. When the body was found, the lower half was submerged in water and when police reached the crime scene, they did precious little to protect whatever evidence was left on the scene.
A version of this article appears in print on December 25, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.