Kathmandu, October 22
Suspended SP Dilliraj Bista and Inspector Jagadish Bhatta, have not responded to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ letters seeking clarification from them within 24 hours. The ministry had issued the letters yesterday.
Home ministry Spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi told THT the ministry had not received any reply from the two officers accused of botching up the investigation into the rape and murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta. He said the ministry had followed due process after Nepal Police Headquarters recommended that the duo be sacked.
When asked what the ministry would now do as the two police officers had not furnished their clarification, Subedi said, “We will follow the law.” Subedi said the ministry had power to seek more clarification from the accused officers if their first responses were not satisfactory.
The Hari Prasad Mainali-led probe committee had accused some police officers, including Bista and Bhatta, of botching up the initial probe into the rape and murder case.
Nirmala was raped and murdered in Bhimdutta Municipality of Kanchanpur district on July 26.
MoHA Information Officer Ekadev Adhikari said the ministry needed to give the two police officers a chance to be heard before firing them.
Bista and Bhatta could not be contacted for comments. Bhatta’s wife Nirmala, however, told THT over phone from Kanchanpur that her husband Jagadish, who had recorded his statement at the police academy in Kathmandu yesterday, called her today morning to inform her that he had received a letter from the home ministry seeking clarification within 24 hours. “My husband has until 11:00am tomorrow to furnish his reply,” she added. She said her husband had been kept at one number battalion of Nepal Police inside Nepal Police Headquarters.
Spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General Sanjeeb Raj Regmi said that as per the law, the 24-hour time would start from the moment the ministry served the notice to the two police officers or at their addresses.
Nepal Police Spokesperson Shailesh Thapa Kshetri said Nepal Police had recommended to the home ministry that Bista
and Bhatta be sacked as they headed the District Police Office and Mahendranagar police unit respectively. When asked
why Nepal Police did not seek to sack other police officers who had been accused of botching up the initial probe, Kshetri said Nepal Police would take appropriate decision in the case of other police personnel after AIG Dhiru Basnet-led probe committee submitted its report.
Six other police officers — DSPs Gyan Bahadur Sethi, Angur GC, Inspector Ekendra Khadka, SI Hara Singh Dhami, ASI Ram Singh Dhami and Constable Chandani Saud have also been suspended for botching up the probe.
A version of this article appears in print on October 23, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.