Nepal | May 29, 2020

EDITORIAL: Not enough

The Himalayan Times
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Shifting narratives and sacking of two cops are the only things that have been seen in government’s ‘efforts’ to nab the culprits in Nirmala rape and murder

Exactly three months after Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur went missing — her body was found a day later in a sugarcane field — the government on Thursday sacked two police officials — Superintendent of Police Dilliraj Bista and Inspector Jagdish Bhatta. SP Bista was the chief of Kanchanpur District Police Office and Inspector Bhatta headed a police unit under which purview the crime scene was. The Ministry of Home Affairs decided to dismiss the two police officials after finding their clarifications “not convincing”. The police officials in question had made a bungle of the investigation from the very beginning—and a government-instituted panel in its report had described in details that they had failed to carry out their duties properly. The sacking of the two officials is just a small positive step in the ongoing investigation into Nirmala rape and murder case. The question, however, remains: When will the government nab the culprit(s)?

Actions taken by the government to find the guilty are not convincing at all—there have only been shifting narratives so far. Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, who had given misleading statements before the sovereign Parliament on Nirmala rape and murder, has been engaged in making preposterous arguments. His statements that capitalism, pornography and alcohol “are promoting cases of rape, sexual harassment and violence against women” are deplorable and diversionary. His promises that the government would nab the culprits have turned out to be hollow. On October 4 he said the “culprits will be brought to book within a week”. More than three weeks have passed, and he is still saying the perpetrators “will be nabbed within a week”. The only thing the Home Ministry and Nepal Police in the last three months have done is—sacking of two police officials. But is it enough? Does this ensure justice to Nirmala?

Around half a dozen investigation teams are currently working on the case. But to what end? The details so far—including the information from the probe panel’s report—suggest Nirmala “went missing” on July 26 after visiting her classmate Aachal Bam, aka Roshani. She was raped and murdered and the body was found at around 9:00 am the next day in a sugarcane field. That’s where the investigations so far have ended. Neither the home ministry nor Nepal Police has given any convincing statement as to why there was so much of bungling into the investigation from the very beginning. The entire probe has been snail-paced and it appears that efforts are being made to protect the culprit(s). Justice for Nirmala now is about justice to all those who have fallen prey to sexual predators. It is about ensuring security to girls and women. Government’s inaction—yes, an action that fails to yield results is as good as inaction—will not only deprive justice to Nirmala but also will promote impunity. What will a strong government mean if it fails to protect citizens and ensure justice to them? It is high time Nepal Police made honest efforts to take the ongoing investigation(s) into a logical conclusion to ensure justice to Nirmala. By maintaining a nonchalant attitude towards sexual violence and failing to act earnestly to find the culprits, the government has failed Nepali women.

Utter negligence

Four persons including a DIG of Nepal Police, a journalist and a cyclist died on Saturday in two separate incidents in Kavre and Kirtipur due to utter negligence on the part of the concerned agencies about public safety measures. Shyam Sundar Shrestha of Chagal of Kathmandu Metropolis died after falling into a water distribution chamber at TU gate, Kirtipur at around midnight Saturday. Police said he fell into the chamber filled with water after his bicycle hit the concrete slabs which had been removed from the chamber and put on its side without any warning signs around it.

DIG Sushil Kumar Bhandari and two others lost their lives at Mandan Deupur Municipality in Kavre when a vehicle they were travelling in skidded off the road when the driver tried to avoid a live wire left unattended on the road. Many people are killed as a result of negligence of the concerned agencies about public safety. The government must take stern action against those responsible for their carelessness at their duty stations. Such mishaps can be easily averted if concerned agencies give public safety measures a top most priority.


A version of this article appears in print on October 29, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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