Probe caught up in confusing timeline

Dhangadi, December 9

The investigation of Pradip Rawal and Bishal Chaudhary, arrested in connection with the rape and murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta of Bhimdatta Municipality, Kanchanpur, has become even more intriguing.

Nirmala Panta was raped and murdered on July 26. On the same day, Rawal and Chaudhary were arrested on the charge of stealing a hen from a meat shop. Their arrest and investigation in connection with Panta’s rape and murder have raised suspicion over the investigation itself due to confusing timeline of events.

According to SP Kuber Kathayat at Kanchanpur District Police Office, Pradip Rawal of Bhimdatta Municipality was arrested for stealing a hen at 10:00am on July 26 and kept at Ward Police Office for an hour before being freed. Bishal Chaudhary from the same municipality was arrested in the evening of July 26 and freed at around 11:00am on July 27.

SP Kathayat said the hen was stolen from the meat shop run by Pale Chaudhary at Bhimdatta Municipality on the night of July 25. Pale had filed a complaint with the temporary police post in Salghari the next morning. Police had detained Pradip on the basis of Pale’s information. Pradip was freed after he told police that Bishal might have stolen the hen. Police then detained Bishal for stealing the hen on the basis of what Pradip had said, at around 6:00pm the same evening. As Pale did not turn up till 11:00am the next morning, Bishal was released at 11:00am on July 27.

Investigating Officer DSP Krishnaraj Ojha at Kanchanpur District Police Office said Nirmala had gone to her friend Roshani Bam’s house at 10:00am on July 26 and left her house at 2:15pm. Police investigation showed that Nirmala was raped and murdered between 2:00 to 3:00pm the same day. However, her body was found in a sugarcane field the next day.

Nirmala was raped and murdered between 2:00 to 3:00pm on July 26 and Pradip was released from police custody same day at 11:00am, while Bishal was arrested at around 6:00pm. Police is looking into the possibility of their involvement in Nirmala’s rape and murder.

“Both Bishal and Pradip are being investigated,” said DSP Ojha, adding, “However, we cannot say whether or not they were involved in the crime”.

Women rights activist Sharada Chand said the government should book the guilty whoever they were. “The government, however, should not frame any innocent person as was done with Dilip Singh Bista,” Chand said. She demanded that the guilty be booked and made public as early as possible.