KATHMANDU, Oct 8: A report of the high-level committee formed to look into the investigation of the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta has found serious “lapses” and “negligence” on part of the police in dealing with the case and booking the perpetrators on time.
Nirmala Panta, 13, of Bhimdatta Municipality in Kanchanpur was found raped and murdered near her home on July 27, a day after she went missing.
The report which was made public Sunday evening, 13 days after it was submitted to the Home Ministry, has accused the then chief of the District Police Office, Kanchanpur, SP Dilli Raj Bista of not protecting the evidences and initiating proper investigation right away. The report has recommended departmental actions against all the police personnel involved in the investigation of the case.
Unsurprisingly, the report has not identified any suspects in the rape case. The 37-page report states the negligence on part of the police soon after Nirmala’s mother approached them asking for help in searching for her missing daughter.
The report prepared by Joint-secretary Hari Prasad Mainali states that trained dogs were not used at the incident site to identify the culprits. The police also failed to seal and protect other evidences including Nirmala’s bicycle, notebook and guavas picked from the house of her friends—Babita and Roshani Bam.
The report has expressed serious concerns over the police failure to arrest Anita Bam aka Babita and Anchal Bam aka Roshani immediately after the locals suspected their involvement in the murder. Nirmala had gone to their house at their request and disappeared from the same house, according to her family members. The probe report has termed the activities of the Bam sisters as suspicious. Police investigators, however, were reluctant for days to detain the Bam sisters.
Instead of arresting the Bam sisters and initiating proper investigation to find possible suspects, the then police chief Bista had reportedly exerted pressure on the Nirmala’s family members to take away their daughter’s body. He had also forged the report of the field investigation, according to the probe committee.
The family members of the victims were suspicious of the involvement of the Bam sisters in the case. A guava tree from which Nirmala had plucked some guavas was cut down soon after Nirmala’s death.
“Public anger against police increased after the latter delayed in taking Babita and Roshani under custody and initiate investigation as demanded by the family members of the victims and the locals,” states the report, blaming the district police leadership for not initiating timely action to resolve the case.
It has also blamed the local police officials of trying to frame a mentally-ill local, Dilip Singh Bista, without having proper evidence of his involvement in the case with the intent of diverting the attention of the rape case.
The report states that police failed to protect evidences. Police, according to the report, had washed Nirmala’s clothes, her private parts and thighs to destroy semen. Due to lack of semen, police are now using vaginal swab to identity the culprits.
Also, police led by SP Bista has been accused of using excessive forces when locals came to street demanding justice for Nirmala. A 17-year-old was killed and two others were injured in police firing.
“When police opened fire, they breached the basic principle of using minimum force and there was no coordination among the security officials,” states the report.