Nirmala Panta Case: Guilty still at large

DHANGADHI: One and a half months have already passed since the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta of Bhimdatta Municipality-2 in Kanchanpur. However, authorities have not yet been able to bring the guilty to book.

The team involved in investigation of the case has indicated that detailed investigation has been going on. Despite this, they are yet to achieve success in finding the perpetrator.

Coordinator of the investigation team at Kanchanpur District Police Office, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Krishna Raj Ojha said that suspected persons have been brought in for interrogation.

In connection to investigating the suspects, DSP Ojha informed that Roshani Bam and Babita Bam are being investigated under custody. Likewise, he shared that statement has been recorded by jointly talking to Nirmala's elder sister Manisha Panta and Roshani Bam. Also, police are also interrogating Aayush Bista and Kiran Bista, who are known to be close to the Bam sisters.

Investigations are being conducted thoroughly, day and night, said DSP Ojha. "It is a complicated and a much sensitive case and that is why we cannot give a timeline within which the case might be solved."

According to Superintendent of Police (SP) Kuber Kathayat at the District Police Office, Kanchanpur, detailed investigation is being carried out into the case at three different levels. He said, "It is an investigation and not a race; it might take some time. In connection to the rape and murder, Ministry of Home Affairs, Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police, and the District Police Office are carrying out investigation."

Likewise, the five-member high level investigation commission -- led by Joint Secretary of Home Ministry Hari Prasad Mainali -- are still in Kanchanpur. Joint Secretary Mainali informed that report writing of the case findings has begun. He said that they are going to stay in Kanchanpur for the next three days following which they will go to Kathmandu and then submit the report.

"We have investigated into various aspects of the incident, which we will incorporate into the report and submit it through the standard defined by government," said Mainali.

Similarly, CIB has been investigating the case from their own angle. Initially, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Angur GC had been involved in the investigation. But from Sunday, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Thakur Prasad Gyawali's team has been put to investigating the case.

On August 20, the then Superintendent of Police (SP) at Kanchanpur District Police Office, Dilli Raj Bista, had made public a 41-year-old man alleging his involvement in the crime. Following this, the locals, citing the psychological condition of the man, had intensified the agitation saying police had made this person public to protect the real culprit. A boy lost his life in the protests and 13 others were injured.

On the other hand, the victim's family is disappointed due to delay in finding the culprit and bringing him under the law.

Nirmala's family had become hopeful with new authorities and police administration entering the investigation. With government sending the high-level investigation commission, there had been some hope, said Nirmala's father Ekraj Panta, lamenting that the guilty had not been arrested no matter who entered the investigation.

He, however, said that he was satisfied with the new team starting investigation from suspected involvements in the incident. He made an emotional statement that his daughter's soul would not rest in peace until the guilty was caught and punished.