Panta Rape and Murder: Arrests raise eyebrows for jumbled timelines

DHANGADI: The investigation into Pradip Rawal and Bishal Chaudhary who were recently arrested for suspicions of involvement in rape and murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta has raised quite a few eyebrows because of a jumbled chronology of events.

According to Superintendent of Police Kuber Kathayat, Rawal who was arrested from Kathmandu was detained and kept at ward police office by officers at Bhimduttanagar Municipality on charges of stealing a hen on July 26, the day Nirmala was murdered.

Likewise, another arrestee Bishal Chaudhary was nabbed on July 26 and released at around 11:00 am, the following day. Nirmala’s body was found lying partially submerged at a sugar cane field the same day at around 9:00 am.

Both Rawal and Chaudhary were detained by police for stealing hen from a butcher's shop ran by Pale Chaudhary at Bhimduttanagar, the SP informed.

According to police, Pale Chaudhary arrived at a temporary police beat at Saal Ghari on July 26 morning and filed a complaint against Rawal. Officers then detained Pradip Rawal at 10:30 am. Rawal accused another arrestee Bishal Chaudhary of stealing Pale’s hen and walked out from the station at 11:00 pm.

While Rawal got back on the street, local Bishal Chaudhary was detained by police at around 6:00 pm on July 26, the day of incident.

Chaudhary was kept in detention for a day and after accuser Pale Chaudhary failed to arrive at ward police office, Chaudhary was released at around 11:00 am on July 27.

“Involvement of both Rawal and Chaudhary is under investigation. But we cannot make a claim yet,” SP Kathayat said.

Meanwhile, activist Sharada Chand of a citizens' struggle committee formed to seek justice for Nirmala hoped that police will not make public an innocent person such as Dilip Singh Bista as the main perpetrator, again.

The rape and murder mystery that has shook the country has again taken a confusing turn. If the arrestees executed the crime, apart from DNA reports, police now has to come up with a well-arranged time line of events, locals said.