Nepal | January 18, 2021

Two years on, delayed justice disappoints Nirmala Panta’s mother

Tekendra Deuba
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DHANGADHI: Two years have passed since 13-year-old Nirmala Panta of Bhimdatta Municipality-2 in Kanchanpur district was raped and murdered, but the culprit(s) have not been found yet.

The victim’s family and others standing together with them, pursuing justice, have become disappointed.

Panta had gone to her friend Roshani Bam’s house to complete her school homework on July 26, 2018. The following day, her body was found in a sugarcane field located at the border of two wards in Bhimdatta.

Police investigation into the case pointed out that she was raped and murdered. When the authorities kept mum about the incident, civil societies and different organisations including human rights bodies demanded justice, and action against the culprits.

Below is the timeline of the progress in the investigation.


2018

July 30 – Nirmala Panta was cremated.

August 20 – Following the pressure from all sides, police in Kanchanpur after 26 days of the incident produced Dilip Singh Bista (41) of Bagthata, Bhimdatta-19 as the culprit involved in the rape-murder of the teenage girl.

August 23 – Locals of Kanchanpur protested against police administration citing that the culprit produced by police was a person with mental disabilities. At least eight local protesters were injured in the clash with police.

Kanchanpur’s Chief District Officer (CDO) Kumar Bahadur Khadka, Superintendent of Police (SP) Dilliraj Bista, and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Gyan Bahadur Sethi were immediately transferred while the local authorities imposed a week-long curfew.

August 24 – Locals staged demonstration where they clashed with police during the curfew. A 14-year-old boy, Sunny Khuna, was also killed in the clash during the protest held amid curfew.

August 25 – SP Bista, his son Kiran Bista, and another local youth Ayush Bista were under screening as suspects.

August 26 – Bam sisters were arrested for their alleged involvement in the rape and murder of Panta. They were released later.

September 12 – Detainee Dilip Singh Bista was released after the vaginal swab of Panta did not match with his DNA.

September 30 – Police made public that Bista trio’s DNA did not match with Nirmala’s swab sample.

October 25 – The government formed a five-member probe committee in coordination with director-general of Prison Management Department, Hari Prasad Mainali to investigate the case.

November 7 – SP Bista was relieved from his position.

December 4 – Local youths Pradeep Rawal and Bishal Chaudhary were arrested as suspects.

December 18 – Nirmala’s mother Durga Devi and Dilip Singh Bista’s elder brother put cases against police personnel involved in preliminary investigation of the case.

December 22 – Chaudhary was released.


2019

March 14 – Kanchanpur Court ordered to release six police personnel who were arrested. The court issued notice for SP Dilliraj Bista and DSP Angoor GC to appear before the court within 21 days.

March 19 – SP Bista and DSP GC appeared before the court.


Meanwhile, the family members and kin of Nirmala Panta are disappointed in lack of justice for the young victim of the gravest crime imaginable.

Nirmala’s mother has argued that the culprits are still at large as the investigation was only based on the swab specimen tests. She demanded that the investigation should be conducted with various possible methods.

She lamented that a young boy died and several others sustained injuries for the cause of the justice pursued, but in vain. Women’s rights activist Sharada Chanda alleged that the authorities had not carried out investigation with proper caution since the beginning.


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