Probe panel member puts in his papers

Kathmandu, September 10

A member of the high-level investigation committee formed to probe the Nirmala Panta murder case, Birendra Bahadur KC, today announced his resignation, stating the government’s decision to extend the panel’s tenure by 15 days had increased the chances of destruction of evidence and eventual escape of the culprit.

Under-secretary at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law of Province 7, KC also claimed his life was at risk, and appealed to the government, National Human Rights Commission, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, international human rights organisations, media, civil society and political parties to help save his life.

“I am at risk of being murdered at any time by the powerful perpetrators,” he said at a press conference in Kathmandu today. He, however, did not disclose who the ‘powerful perpetrators’ were.

KC said his resignation was to ensure justice to Nirmala and her family as he felt that he could not deliver justice to them if he continued to remain in the committee. “As I have some serious misgivings about the investigation, I decided to leave the committee hoping that my resignation would pressure the authorities to deliver justice,” said KC, who sent his resignation to the government by post.

The government had formed the five-member committee on July 26 under the coordination of Joint Secretary Hari Prasad Mainali. The committee had investigated the incident by spending a fortnight in Kanchanpur.

KC said they prepared a preliminary investigation report after working 20 hours a day with a view to submitting it to the government within the stipulated 15 days.

He said he frequently cautioned the committee about chances of the perpetrator escaping due to evidence tampering and the complications related to DNA tests if the report was not submitted within 15 days.

Amid possibilities of his suggestions being ignored, he filed an application informing the government through the panel’s coordinator about his decision to relieve himself as panel member on September 3 in Kanchanpur, but later decided to continue following the coordinator’s advice, according to KC.

“However, as the government decided to extend the committee’s tenure, I think it is impossible for delivering justice to Nirmala Panta and her family,” he said. He added that he hoped the committee would identify the culprits and recommend action and the government would take action against them as per the laws and assure people of the rule of law.

The probe committee’s coordinator Mainali, however, expressed ignorance about KC’s resignation. “We didn’t have any differences. Instead, we had the same opinion about the incident,” he said, adding that he had heard about KC’s resignation through the media.

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

Locals have staged demonstrations several times in Kanchanpur demanding justice for Nirmala, and a boy even lost his life in the protests, while 13 others were injured.