We are awaiting the government’s response
Kathmandu, October 9
As the National Human Rights Commission awaits the government’s response to its eight-point directive issued on Sunday in relation to the Nirmala Panta rape and murder case, the Ministry of Home Affairs has yet to take concrete steps to implement the NHRC fiat.
Thirteen-year-old Nirmala was raped and murdered on July 26 in Bhimdutta Municipality of Kanchanpur district and the police remain clueless about culprit(s).
The NHRC has directed the government to re-analyse and re-examine the capacity of the labs where DNA tests were conducted, where the victim’s vaginal swab was stored and the suspects’ semen was tested and to retest the DNA and vaginal swab of the victim and the suspects’ semen.
The rights body also raised questions on the role of the Bam sisters — Roshani and Babita — and suspended Superintendent of Police Dilliraj Bista, and urged the government to probe allegations against them. Investigators should, therefore, treat the Bam sisters as suspects, the NHRC stated in the directive.
“It was found that local police did not safeguard evidence at the incident site, rather the evidence was destroyed. Sniffer dogs were not mobilised to find culprit(s) and the chief of the district police office was not present at the incident site to coordinate investigation,” the NHRC directive stated.
NHRC Spokesperson Mohna Ansari said the rights body identified eight lapses in the probe and issued necessary directives to the government. “We are awaiting the government’s response,” she said.
The NHRC directive means that the government can either identify the criminals or admit that it is protecting them.
Spokesperson for the home ministry Ram Krishna Subedi, however, said he was not aware of any development on the NHRC directive front.
But a high-level official at the home ministry said they were preparing to launch necessary steps to implement the NHRC directive. “While we have initiated necessary action on some of the eight points, we are preparing to take action on others. On some points, the ministry’s investigation is under way,” said the official, without specifically elaborating on which points action was being initiated.
Meanwhile, as the NHRC is still undecided whether or not to publish its probe report, one of its members said they were close to finalising the report.
NHRC member Sudip Pathak said they received a preliminary report from its investigation team on Sunday and said it would take some time to finalise the report as they needed to talk to a few authorities.
According to Pathak, as the preliminary probe has found lapses in police investigation and authenticity of DNA tests and autopsy was under cloud, the NHRC will hold talks with former AIGs and DIGs who were involved in criminal investigation, officials concerned at the National Academy of Science and Technology who conducted DNA tests and forensic team of the police crime investigation department.
When asked whether the NHRC would make public the report, Pathak said they would hold talk with the aforementioned officials for the next two days and could say something only after the talks. “In its current form, we cannot make public our report,” said Pathak.
A version of this article appears in print on October 10, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.