Protesting teenager killed in police firing

  • Indefinite curfew clamped in Bhimdatta

Dhangadi, August 24

A 14-year-old boy was killed in police firing in Kanchanpur’s Bhimdatta Municipality today while protesting police’s failure to book actual murderer of Nirmala Panta, the 13-year-old whose body was found from a sugarcane field on July 26. Five others were injured in today’s firing.

Sani Khuna of Bhimdatta Municipality was demonstrating in front of the district administration office when police opened fire. Khuna was hit in the chest.

Others injured in the firing — Kabindra Singh, Sagun Subedi, Damodar Khatri, Umesh Deuba and Chetan Bhatta -- have been taken to Mahakali Zonal Hospital for treatment. Bhatta is said to be critical.

Today’s demonstration was launched at the initiative of the Nepali Congress’ sister wing Nepal Student Union, alleging that Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Bhim Bahadur Rawal’s remarks on the Nirmala murder case were meant to protect the ‘murderer’. Rawal had accused the NC of using the murder as a political tool.

When demonstrators started vandalising the traffic police office and the vehicles parked there, the police opened fire. Assistant Chief District Officer Shankar Bista said the police had to resort to firing to take the situation under control.

The district administration has clamped an indefinite curfew in Wards No 4 and 18 of Bhimdatta Municipality from 8:00 tonight. Yesterday too, the administration had clamped a 12-hour dusk-to-dawn curfew in the Bhimdatta town area as the agitation seeking action against the actual killer of the teenager turned violent and six demonstrators and two policemen were injured in clashes.

Meanwhile, the government team formed to probe Nirmala’s rape and murder began its work after arriving in the district today. The government had formed a five-member probe committee led by Joint Secretary Hari Prasad Mainali. After meeting Chief Minister Trilochan Bhatta in Dhangadi, the team headed to Bhimdatta.

Kanchanpur CDO Taranth Adhikari told THT:  “In the first phase of the investigation, we held talks with government officials. We’ll talk to representatives of civil society, human rights activists and the victim’s family in the next phase,” Mainali said, adding the committee will also study the files related to the incident, if the need be.

Nirmala’s father Ekraj Panta, a resident of Kanchanpur, expressed confidence that the government investigation team would be able to investigate the incident fairly.

Following yesterday’s violence, the government had recalled Kanchanpur CDO Kumar Bahadur Khadka, Superintendent of Police Dilliraj Bista and Deputy Superintendent of Police Gyan Bahadur Sethi to the home ministry and sent Taranath Adhikari as the new CDO and SP Kuber Kadayat as the security chief of the district.

Nirmala’s body was found in a sugarcane field in Nimbukheda in Ward No 18 of the municipality on July 27. Ever since the incident, demonstrations are being organised in Kanchanpur by civil society and rights activists demanding action against the murderer.