18-year-old suspect in Nirmala case set free after 24 days

Kathmandu, December 26

Pradip Rawal, 18, the prime suspect in the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta, was released today without bail till a trial in the case begins.

Rawal, who was arrested under Public Offence Act, was quizzed by Central Investigation Bureau officials to know if he had any role in the rape and murder of the 13-year-old girl of Bhimdutta Municipality, Kanchanpur, on July 26.

Cops in civvies had arrested Pradip on December 3 from a Sundhara-based restaurant,  where he had been working for around four months. Pradip, who served 24 days in police custody, alleged that he was subjected to mental and physical torture by cops. He told THT that cops threatened him with dire consequence if he did not confess to the crime.

Pradip hails from Bhimdutta Municipality of Kanchanpur district where Nirmala Panta was raped and murdered. Kanchanpur Police had also arrested him around 10 days after the rape and murder of Nirmala. He was later released on the same day after being interrogated.

Police arrested Pradip again after suspecting his travel to India on the very next day of Nirmala’s rape and murder. Pradip told THT: “I was completely unaware that any such incident had occurred in our area. I had gone to India on July 27 to visit my maternal uncle who lives in Khatimar, Lohiya, Uttar Pradesh.”

Pradip’s parents and his elder brother live in Bangalore, while he used to live in Kanchanpur doing odd jobs. Pradip and his friends were involved in cases of petty thefts, such as stealing hen and food from neighbours.

Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Sarbendra Khanal, chief of Central Investigation Bureau Deputy Inspector General Niraj Bahadur Shahi and a couple of senior police officers are in the western part of the country on an official visit and will also visit Kanchanpur.

They might seek updates about the Nirmala Panta case, said  Nepal Police Spokesperson Uttam Raj Subedi.