School teacher accused of molesting students arrested

Kathmandu, February 19

Police have arrested Nanda Prasad Niraula, the 55-year-old social studies teacher at Shree Narayan Basic School in Mahalaxmi Municipality of Lalitpur, on the charge of sexually molesting 26 girls of grades III, IV and V on the school premises.

The arrest was made after school Principal Sabita Silwal filed a first information report about the sexual assault today.

Although Silwal was aware about the issue six days ago, she had not formally lodged a police complaint as she was asked by the school management committee to keep mum. “I finally decided not to cave in to the pressure as I am also a guardian of young girls who were molested,” said Silwal, adding, “The perpetrator must be punished as per the law.”

If Niraula is found guilty he could be imprisoned for up to three years and fined up to Rs 30,000. He could even get a longer sentence for deliberately abusing his authority as a teacher, according to police.

This case was first exposed by THT after it got hold of a letter jointly written by the girls to their principal. In the letter, the girls aged nine to 13 had charged Niraula of caressing their bodies, including chest and legs, in an inappropriate manner. Some of the girls later told THT that Niraula would shut doors and windows of classrooms before committing the heinous crime.

“The children’s verbal complaints and the letter they have written would be used as evidences to initiate litigation,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Mitra Bandhu Sharma, who heads Metropolitan Police Circle, Satdobato, adding, “Our case will be stronger if we can convince the parents of the children to furnish their statement.”

This is not the first time Niraula has been charged with molesting girls on school premises. He was transferred from two schools in Patan and Lakuri Bhanjyang after facing similar accusations, according to Silwal. Yet the crimes he committed in the past were never reported to the police.

Despite being aware of his sketchy past, the school management committee had tried to protect him by delaying the process of

lodging police complaint. Yesterday, the Guardian Association of Nepal even warned it would take the case to the police itself if the school management continued showing its indifference. But in an unexpected turn of events, the school management committee today suspended Niraula from the school and formed a three-member investigation team to support the police in their investigation.

Police, until today, had said they could not formally investigate the case unless an FIR was filed as the victims were minors. Without FIR, police cannot keep a person in their custody for more than 24 hours. So, police were asking Niraula to present himself at the station every day.