Kathmandu, November 13
Shailesh Karki, 22, of Ramechhap district has been sentenced to five years and two months in jail for raping a 22-year-old at Durbar Marg-based Hotel Landmark on 21 January 2018.
Karki was one of the four suspects in the rape case. Two of his accomplices, Bikash Gautam and Deepak Shrestha, were slapped a jail term of 14 months each, according to Kathmandu District Court Registrar Ananda Prasad Shrestha. One of the suspects, Ravi Poudel, is still at large. The court will decide his fate after he is arrested, court Spokesperson Gyan Bahadur Karki said.
The prison sentences were handed over by Judge Kamal Prasad Pokharel. He has also ordered Karki to provide Rs 700,000 in compensation to the victim.
Karki had befriended the 22-year-old victim on Facebook and had met her in person a couple of times. On the evening of January 21, when the incident took place, Karki had invited her to a restaurant in Lazimpat. She had initially declined the offer but later accepted it on Karki’s insistence.
At the restaurant, the victim was offered two glasses of “wine” and a plate of momo. “After finishing two glasses of the alcoholic beverage, I had become almost unconscious,” the victim stated in her first information report. Karki had then taken her to the hotel at Durbar Marg, where his friends were also staying. Karki and his friends then ‘raped her in drunken stupor and took her nude pictures’, adds the FIR. The four also warned her against ‘disclosing what happened that night to anyone’.
But the threat did not stop the victim from visiting the Metropolitan Police Circle at Durbar Marg the next morning where she filed a complaint. She was later sent for a medical check-up. Police even rounded up Karki within a day, according to sources.
But in a strange turn of events, police officers of Durbar Marg Circle kept ‘the information about Karki’s arrest under wraps’ and started pressuring the victim and her family to reach an out-of-court settlement.
Yielding to this pressure, the victim turned hostile and said she and her partner had consensual physical relation and there was no coercion as such. Following this, police played the role of a mediator and helped the two sides reach a deal, paving the way for Karki’s release from custody.
By this time, media had started reporting about the incident and the ‘foul play’ of police. This led to formation of a five-member probe panel under Superintendent of Police Ram Dutta Joshi. The probe team concluded that police officials of Durbar Marg Circle had played a role in forcing the victim to withdraw the case by offering a sum of Rs 300,000 to the victim’s family.
Inspector Laxman Singh Thakuri and Sub Inspector Chandra Bahadur Bhandari were later suspended for this offence, while Deputy Superintendent of Police Tirak Bharati, head of the Durbar Marg Police Circle, was transferred.
Karki was later arrested in the third week of March before the court case formally began.
A version of this article appears in print on November 14, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.