When calls for justice go in vain, when all efforts to make justice delivery institutions work to bring the perpetrators of crimes to book seemingly fail, when the state seems blithely indifferent to sufferings of commoners, what are the commoners supposed to do? Suffer in silence? Give up? Or continue the fight for justice with whatever means is available? For the parents of Nirmala Panta, who have been running from pillar to post, knocking on the door of every government and non-government institution to identify and jail rapists and murderers of their daughter, it seems, the state has left them with no choice but to keep raising voice for justice with whatever means are there at their disposal. After all promises from the government—including from Prime Minister K P Oli and Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa—to identify and arrest Nirmala’s rapists and murderers went unfulfilled, Durga Devi Panta and Yagya Raj Panta have started sit-in protest for an indefinite period in Mahendranagar, district headquarters of Kanchanpur from Sunday. The fact that parents of rape victim have to take this measure to prod government authorities into action shows how indifferently our institutions and officials therein are responding to heinous crimes of rape and murder. We hope Nirmala’s parents’ call for justice will be heard and urge the government authorities to work with extreme urgency to address their demands.
The murder and rape of thirteen years old school girl has sparked national consciousness against violence against women and children. It has united people across the country for justice for Nirmala. But the failure of the government to do anything substantive in this case has raised a lot of legitimate questions: Why is the government failing to apprehend the rapists? Why has it even failed to impress on people that the government is doing all it can to bring the perpetrators to book? Is this happening because the perpetrators are among top police officials? Or is this case going to end like infamous Namita-Sunita rape and murder case of 1980? With prolonged delay in result-oriented investigation in Nirmala’s case, the government has badly discredited itself.
Expectedly, there will be solidarity with Nirmala Panta’s parents’ call for justice. With support from human rights activists and civil society members, this nearly four months old case is surely going to receive wider support. We express our solidarity with Nirmala’s parents and demand that the government leaves no stone unturned to bring the rapists to book. We have stood for justice for Nirmala from the very first day since the tragic event happened. And we will continue to raise voice for justice. The case has earned widespread defamation to the government, home and abroad, and it has almost irreparably damaged its reputation as well. The only way to salvage this reputation will be by arresting the culprits and ensuring justice to Nirmala’s parents. The government may ignore this call for justice but it will further erode its public legitimacy.