Nineteen-year-old arrested from Maharajgunj, DNA sample sent for test

Kathmandu, December 6

Police have arrested 19-year-old Pradip Rawal, a permanent resident of Bhimdatta Municipality of Kanchanpur, from Maharajgunj in connection with the rape and murder of 13-year old Nirmala Panta.

According to a home ministry source, Central Investigation Bureau interrogated Rawal and recorded his statement, following which his DNA sample was sent to the forensic lab. The source added that after recording Rawal’s statement at CIB, Inspector General of Police Sarbendra Khanal told the home minister today that the police had made some headway in the investigation into the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta.

DSP Phanindra Prasain of Metropolitan Police Circle, Maharajgunj, told THT that Rawal was first arrested on  December 3 on charges of misbehaving with  girls in Maharajgunj and was transferred to CIB due to lack space in the Mahrajgunj unit.

According to CIB sources, after questioning Rawal they found leads that indicated his possible involvement in the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta. Rawal hails from Bhimdatta Municipality, Kanchanpur district, and used to live around three kilometres from Nirmala’s house.

His parents live in India and he went to India to visit them.

Police had earlier tested DNA samples of nine persons, but none of them matched Nirmala’s vaginal. Superintendent of Police Dilliraj Bista and Inspector Jagdish Bhatta of Kanchanpur district were sacked by the home ministry for botching up the investigation into the rape and murder of Nirmala. Locals and family members of Nirmala Panta have been staging indefinite sit-in in Kanchanpur demanding justice for Nirmala since November 11.

Nirmala’s father, Yagya Raj Panta, who had been staging sit-in in Kanchanpur was hospitalised in Kathmandu with symptoms of mental disorder.

Social activists have been staging nationwide protests demanding justice for Nirmala. A nationwide campaign is also being run by social activists to paste posters on the streets, demanding justice for Nirmala, who had disappeared on the afternoon of July 26. Her body was found at around 9:00am the next day in a sugarcane field less than one kilometre from her home. Circumstantial evidences show that Nirmala’s body may have been dumped in the field after she was raped and killed somewhere else.