DHANGADI, Oct 9: Expressing serious concern over the report of the high-level committee, locals and parents of Nirmala Panta, a Kanchanpur teen who was raped and murdered more than two months ago, have demanded action against the police officials initially involved in probing the case and Bam sisters for their alleged involvement in the crime.
The demand comes a day after the Hari Prasad Mainali-led committee, formed to investigate the police probe into the rape and murder case, made public its report on Sunday, suspecting police involvement in protecting the rapist(s). Saying that the activities of Bam sisters - Babita and Roshani -- from where Nirmala had gone missing seem suspicious, the report has pointed a finger at them as well.
“We were hoping the report will identity the culprit(s) and justice will be ensured once the report gets publicized,” said Yagya Raj Panta, Nirmala's father, adding, “But there is nothing new in it besides what we were saying for long. It's totally disappointing.”
Panta believes departmental action against the Superintendent of Police (SP) Dilli Raj Bista, the one accused of destroying evidence, is just a ploy to protect him. “The sad thing is that the report did not recommend action against police, the one who is directly involved in protecting the criminal,” said Panta referring to SP Bista, adding, “Bam sisters and SP Bista might have knowledge about the criminal(s). That's why an investigation should be started by taking them into custody."
The committee's report which was publicized 13 days after it was submitted to the home minister had termed the activities of the Bam sisters as suspicious. Police investigators, however, were reluctant for days to detain the Bam sisters. It has also pointed out SP Bista's negligence in solving the rape and murder case from the very beginning.
Panta says Bam sisters were involved in killing his daughter Nirmala. “I am not saying that Bam sisters killed my daughter but they are somehow linked to the crime. Police have not taken initiatives to trace the culprits. Instead, they are just trying to frame poor and powerless people.”
Women rights activist Helen Shrestha said the report was publicized just for the sake of formality. She warned of intensifying the protests if the government continued to protect the real culprits(s).
Another civil society leader Bhawaraj Regmi also suspects SP Bista and Bam sisters are involved in Nirmala's rape and murder. “Police have deliberately destroyed the evidence with the intent of distorting the incident,” said Regmi.
The civil society leader complained that the then SP Bista, who was working as police chief in the district of Kanchanpur when the girl was raped, had promised to interrogate Bam sisters in an all-party meeting. But the police chief never did what he said.
“Mere departmental action against the SP is not enough,” said Regmi.