Mental illness afflicts Nirmala’s father

Dhangadi/Kathmandu, November 23

Yagya Raj Panta, the father of 13-year-old Nirmala, who was found raped and murdered on July 26, has developed mental health disorder, as gruelling hours of sit-in and a volley of questions fired at him everyday regarding the heinous crime have left him disturbed.

Yagya Raj has been taking part in an indefinite sit-in in front of the Kanchanpur District Administration Office for the last 13 days, demanding that those who raped and murdered his daughter be nabbed and brought to justice.

Lately, he has started showing unusual behaviour, said Deputy Superintendent of Police Krishnaraj Ojha, who is stationed in Kanchanpur. “He weeps, screams, scolds, and yells that authorities shoot him to death or else he would do it,” the DSP said.

Yagya Raj also sees things that are not there, according to Yagya Raj’s wife, Durga Devi. “Yesterday he pointed to a policewoman and said, ‘Nirmala is defending our country’,” she said. “Today, he went to the market, bought new clothes and wore them.”

Hundreds of people throng the sit-in site everyday and ask same type of questions or express similar concerns. “This has impaired his ability to function properly, as he was not exposed to this kind of situation before,” said Durga Devi. “This wouldn’t have happened had the state worked effectively in dispensing justice to Nirmala.”

A team of doctors reached the sit-in site today to treat Yagya Raj, according to DSP Ojha.

Preparations are under way to send Yagya Raj to Kathmandu for further treatment. “He will probably be flown to Kathmandu tomorrow,” Durga Devi said. “The district administration office has said his condition might deteriorate if he does not receive medical treatment soon.” It is not known where Yagya Raj will be admitted to in Kathmandu.

The illness that Nirmala’s father is suffering from could have been averted had he undergone “counselling and received psychological support”, said Dr Kedar Rayamajhi, a clinical psychologist.

“He has gone through a lot. His daughter was raped and murdered; he has spent months demanding justice for her; he has even met the prime minister, but the perpetrators have not been nabbed. This has left him distressed,”said Dr Rayamajhi. “He is showing the symptoms of psychological trauma.”

Yagya Raj’s daughter Nirmala had disappeared on the afternoon of July 25 after visiting the house of her classmate, Aachal Bam, aka Roshani.

Nirmala’s mother had called the police that evening after she went missing, but no action was taken, according to a government report. Her body was found at around 9:00 am the next day in a sugarcane field. Circumstantial evidences show that Nirmala’s body may have been dumped in the field after she was raped and killed somewhere else.