Police fail to trace suspects’ whereabouts

Kathmandu, February 9

Over two weeks after the January 21 Durbar Marg gang rape case came to light, police have yet to trace the whereabouts of the alleged perpetrators.

Police had formed a five-member probe panel led by SP Ram Dutta Joshi after the gang rape victim filed an FIR against four persons at Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu, alleging that Durbar Marg-based Metropolitan Police Range had forced her into reconciling with the rapists by accepting bribe from the perpetrators’ side and let them walk free.

SP Joshi said police had stepped up a manhunt to apprehend Shailesh Karki, Bikash Gautam, Deepak Shrestha and Ravi Paudel. “We are close to tracing their whereabouts and will bring them to book very soon,” he said. The investigation report submitted by the panel to Nepal Police Headquarters, Metropolitan Police Office and MPR has established that the 22-year-old victim was denied justice due to the lack of seriousness and sensitivity on the part of responsible officials of MPC, Durbar Marg.

The woman had claimed that she had been gang-raped at Hotel Landmark by four persons, including her alleged boyfriend Karki, in a drunken stupor. The next day, the victim filed a case against the four, but Inspector Laxman Singh Thakuri, who was also the litigation officer for Durbar Marg police, forced her into signing a reconciliation paper. Inspector Thakuri and sub-inspector Chandra Bahadur Bhandari have already been suspended while DSP Tilak Bharati, MPC in-charge, was relieved of his duties.

“The probe panel has recommended that DSP Bharati, Inspector Thakuri and SI Bhandari be awarded maximum punishment, up to dismissal from service, for their collusion with the perpetrators,” SP Joshi said. However, the probe panel has yet to ascertain how much bribe was offered to the police officials for the settlement of the gang rape case.

The National Human Rights Commission, which is also investigating into the incident, has maintained that women victims of sexual violence are often deprived of justice.