Probe committee to record erring cop’s statement today

Kathmandu, February 29

A probe committee formed by Nepal Police is likely to take a few more days to decide whether or not to recommend action against police Inspector Devi Prasad Poudel, who had mercilessly beaten up a young woman with her toddler wrapped in her arms, on Thursday afternoon at Bhaisepati.

Nepal Police is facing widespread criticism for not behaving professionally after a video that shows the inspector beating up a young woman went viral on social media. The woman in the video has been identified as Hima Shrestha, 34. Following the incident, Nepal Police formed a three-member probe committee to investigate the case.

The probe committee formed yesterday led by Superintendent of Police Durga Singh of Metropolitan Police Range, Jawalakhel, has yet to record Inspector Poudel’s statement. “We will record his statement tomorrow and complete the investigation within a few days,” said SP Singh. The SP also said MPR, Jawalakhel, would take action against the erring inspector only after the probe committee’s report.

Meanwhile, the inspector has been recalled to MPR, Jawalakhel, from his regular posting at Metropolitan Police Sector, Bhaisepati.

Shrestha and a group of women had reached former senior Nepali Army officer Hem Khatri’s residence at Bhaisepati on Thursday afternoon to broker talks between him and his long time mistress Mala Shah. The officer allegedly had an extramarital relationship with the woman for 18 years.

Shah had also filed a police case against Khatri on November 14 last year stating that Khatri, who had been living with her for years, had gone out of contact. According to sources, Mala had got pregnant a year ago and Khatri persuaded her to abort the baby.

After the women reached Khatri’s residence yesterday, his family members had called the police.

Police reached the house and asked them to stay calm. The women were later told that they would settle the case at the police station and were asked to board the police van. “But as we reached near the van, Inspector Poudel suddenly started me with a stick for no reason whatsoever,” Shrestha said.

Mohana Ansari, commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission, said hitting a woman in such a case was completely unjustifiable. Police could only use batons when a mob turned violent, that too with the permission of higher authorities. “Moreover, hitting a mother ruthlessly while she was holding her toddler was inhuman,”

Ansari said. She added that the police action was condemnable.

Advocate Meera Dhungana said police had no right to beat or torture anyone and the police officer hitting the woman must be punished. She also said the police could have used female police personnel to disperse the group of women gathered outside Khatri’s house.

Khatri’s family members later filed a first information report against the six women stating that they had misbehaved with them. Following the FIR, District Administration Office, Lalitpur, has remanded four of the six women to seven-day police custody while Hima and one more woman with the baby have been released on personnel recognition.