Hareram Dhakal (Left) and ex-Deputy Inspector General of Armed Police Force, Ranjan Koirala (Right) as Koirala waving his hands while coming out from Dillibazar prison on Thursday. (Photo: Republica)
KATHMANDU, July 24: He looked exhausted. His memory lane took him to the painful moment while talking about his darling late daughter Geeta Dhakal. With teary eyes and trembling voice, Hareram Dhakal, 72, was just trying to plead the world to pressure for justice as the country's judiciary shattered his faith.
After Republica, he was scheduled to meet several other media on Wednesday afternoon. A few kilometers away from where the old man was doing all this, the murderer of his daughter, ex-Deputy Inspector General of Armed Police Force, Ranjan Koirala, had already made an exit from the Dillibazar prison as his jail term had been heavily waived, which was but challenged by the Office of the Attorney General the same day, and a petition filed for the review of the verdict.
"My wife almost lost her eyesight after this incident, her visibility is poor. She is physically, mentally fragile. I have to take care of her round the clock," said Hareram. "Life has only become an ordeal for us, but you can't show tears all the time," he added.
Geeta's mother is diabetic. Overstress took a toll on her eyesight after around two months of the tragedy. Several other health complications have made it difficult for Hareram to take care of her.
When they lost their daughter, it was the two grandsons they wanted to keep closer. That would give them some solace. Ranjan's family got custody of the boys, and the Dhakal couple gradually lost connection with them. "But perhaps they only have hatred for us now," said Hareram, a former deputy director of Nepal Airlines Corporation, quite overruling the general speculations that the boys must be against their father. "They see through the lens of his family (Ranjan's), I don't think they hold him (Ranjan) responsible for the crime, you can brainwash a young mind," he lamented.
Geeta was 20 and Ranjan 24 when they got married. It was not Ranjan’s dashing personality and appealing job that made Hareram feel like giving away his daughter to him. According to Hareram, a close relative, who would have quite a say over him, had arranged this and marriage took place within 10 days of the matter discussed. "Perhaps it was destiny, I did not say no to the relative. It was not that I was overwhelmed by his profession or his looks in the beginning, though later it felt like perhaps we had made a good choice," he said.
The happiness was very short lived though. Ranjan was an aggressive man who would overreact even to small matters. Things were not perfect right from the beginning.
"He was a drunkard. He was equally sick for women," he charges. "But yet he would not cross the line had he not fallen for another woman," he assumes.
“The other woman” is Tara Regmi, who also served a jail term for her involvement in this crime, and reached the Dillibazar prison on Wednesday to receive Ranjan. Ranjan's unapologetic gestures and Tara's unexpected appearance at the sight further fueled the voice for justice as the media and civil society strongly unwelcomed the Supreme Court's verdict on this case.
Hareram had last seen his daughter and son-in-law apparently happy during their short stay at his apartment in Bangkok in 2000. The same year, Ranjan met Tara. Ranjan was stationed at Hanumandhoka Crime Division when Tara and her ex-husband made an entry following some issue. The next day, they had to come again. Ranjan told that there is no need for the husband to come and called Tara alone, narrates Hareram. "Gradually they got closer," he said, sounding sorry.
From this point, Ranjan started maintaining distance with Geeta. He sought a divorce. But Geeta, a mother of two, could not take this harsh decision. The tensions aggravated further. They would resort to physical fights and verbal abuses became normal. On 11 January 2012, Geeta died, strangled by her husband and her dead body was taken miles away from Kathamandu to Palung and burnt and buried silently, but only to be discovered by some locals soon after. Ranjan's dreams to restart life by getting rid of his wife could not be realized; he fell in the police net. The district and high court slapped him with life imprisonment and confiscation of all his property and he was serving a jail term when a joint bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Tej Bahadur KC last week reduced it to eight and a half years.
"From 2005, he stopped coming home and started living with Tara. The house was registered under my daughter's name, he completely disowned the family," Hareram recalls.
Hareram had not wanted his daughter to live in the wrong relationship any longer. The developments had left him nervous. However, “it was for the sake of the children, my daughter could not walk off," he asserts. And the children who are quite grown up now, the grandfather does not know would ever acknowledge this sacrifice of their mother.