The National Human Rights Commission, which has deployed its own inspection team to monitor authorities investigating the alleged rape and murder of Bhagirathi Bhatta in Baitadi, has urged the police to carry out a highly professional and impartial investigation.

Seventeen-year-old Bhagirathi of Chadepani of Dogada Kedar Rural Municipality of Sudurpaschim Province was reportedly raped and murdered on February 3.

The body of Bhagirathi, a 12th grader in the local Sanatan Dharma Secondary School in Khochalek, was found in a jungle around three kilometres away from her home.

Her clothes were tattered and her body was covered in bruises with blood coming out from various parts of her body, including the vaginal area.

Bhagirathi's family filed an FIR with the police, saying she was raped and murdered. Nobody has been arrested so far in the case.

Tikaram Pokharel, spokesperson for the national rights body, issuing a press release today informed that a team from the Provincial NHRC Office in Sudurpaschim's Dhangadi has left for Baitadi to study the rape and murder case.

The NHRC also said it had sent a letter to Baitadi District Police Office asking for the latest findings in the course of investigation.

The press release also stated that lack of security, long distance between home and school, and compulsion to walk through isolated areas for education, especially in hilly areas like Baitadi, had adversely impacted the psychology of school-going children.

"These situations have been a big problem in relation to children's right to live, be protected and develop themselves," the watchdog's press statement read. The NHRC also urged the government to immediately conduct an impartial and effective investigation, gather evidence, bring the culprits to justice and ensure relief to the families of victims.

Deputy Inspector General of Nepal Police of Sudurpaschim Province Uttam Subedi said preliminary investigation showed that Bhagirathi was taken to Tawalek Community Forest and murdered after rape while she was returning home from her school at around 02:00pm on Wednesday.

"Further investigation into the case was under way and detailed information was awaited," he added.

Many people have been looking into the rape and murder case in terms of similarities with the rape and murder of 13-years-old Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur, who was also found raped and murdered on 26 July 2018. The culprit of the crime is yet to be arrested.

The Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) also urged the government not to repeat errors that were made during Panta's rape and murder probe.

Similarly, Nepali Congress leader Sekhar Koirala has also demanded fair investigation in the case. Koirala also urged the government not to make mistakes as in the investigation of Nirmala's case.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 8, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.