Dhangadi, September 11
The Nirmala Panta murder mystery got murkier today after Dilip Singh Bista, the main accused in the rape and murder of the 13-year-old girl from Bhimdatta Municipality, Kanchanpur, was released on general date after his DNA test report did not match Nirmala’s post-mortem DNA profile.
Former Kanchanpur police chief, Superintendent of Police Dilliraj Bista, had tried to pin the blame for Nirmala’s rape and murder on Dilip, infuriating the locals of Bhimdutta, leading to days-long agitation and death of a 14-year-old protester, Sunny Khuna, at the hands of police.
Babita Bam and her sister Roshani Bam, arrested on August 24 for their alleged connection to Nirmala’s murder, were also freed today. Babita was bailed out for Rs 30,000, while Roshani was freed on general date. Nirmala was Roshani’s friend. On the fateful day in July when Nirmala was raped and murdered, she had gone to Roshani’s house to do homework.
According to Kanchanpur CDO Taranath Adhikari, Dilip had to be set free for lack of evidence.
Superintendent of Police Dilliraj Bista had made the arrest of Dilip Singh Bista of Baghphant in Bhimdatta Municipality public on August 20, 26 days after Nirmala’s murder.
Dilip was later taken to Kathmandu for health check-up and DNA test. He was brought to Kanchanpur from Kathmandu on Sunday.
Locals of Bhimdutta had hit the streets claiming that the SP had arrested a mentally disturbed Dilip to shield the real culprits. Locals alleged that police personnel involved in preliminary probe had altered the crime scene and thrown cloth torn from Dilip’s shirt at the incident site to prove him guilty. The police bid to frame Dilip and shield the real culprits had led to the agitation.
The National Human Rights Commission and the High-Level Government Probe Committee have accused SP Dilliraj Bista of negligence while probing the incident. The government has already suspended him and recalled him from Kanchanpur.
Locals say Dilip Singh’s release will hopefully exert pressure on Kanchanpur police to nab the real culprits.
In a related development, Under-secretary Birendra KC, a member of the High Level Government Probe Committee formed to investigate the murder, had resigned yesterday after the probe committee’s deadline to submit its report was extended by 15 days, alleging that the deadline was extended to shield the guilty.
The decision to release the three accused was taken by the Office of District Attorney.
A version of this article appears in print on September 12, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.