SP Bista, Inspector Bhatta sacked for gross negligence, destroying evidence

Published On: October 26, 2018 06:17 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Oct 26: Concluding that they had shown gross negligence in handling the case of Nirmala Panta’s rape and subsequent murder some three months ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) on Thursday sacked then Kanchanpur district police chief Dilli Raj Bista and Inspector Jagadish Prasad Bhatta.
A meeting held at MoHA on Thursday evening decided to relieve Bista and Bhatta as the second clarifications submitted to Police Headquarters over the rape and murder case were found unsatisfactory. Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai, Nepal Police chief Sarbendra Khanal and Joint Secretary at the Home Ministry Ram Krishna Subedi were among those participating in the meeting that took the decision to this effect. 

Although three months have elapsed since the rape and murder of the 13-year-old, the identity of the perpetrator(s) remains a mystery. Police Headquarters had written to MoHA to sack the two, alleging that Bista in his capacity as district police chief and Bhatta as the officer responsible for handling the case had not only shown gross negligence of duty but also deliberately destroyed crucial evidence. 

MoHA through Police Headquarters had sought clarifications for a second time from both Bista and Bhatta. As their clarifications were not found satisfactory, the two police officers were sacked as per Rule 113 (a) of Nepal Police Regulations 2071 BS. 

The two officials, however, won’t be ineligible for future government service, as per the decision taken by MoHA on Thursday. “A ministerial decision was taken on the basis of the recommendation made by Nepal Police and after the clarifications furnished by them were found not satisfactory,” said MoHA Joint Secretary Ram Krishna Subedi. 

Bista and Bhatta had sent their second clarifications to MoHA on Thursday. Bista in his four-page clarifications stated that the case was politicized and he was made a victim of that although he had fulfilled his responsibilities in the best possible manner. 

However, MoHA officials found his response was rather emotional and it failed to answer key questions concerning negligence in the investigation process.

On July 26, Panta, a ninth-grader, had left for her friend Roshani Bam’s house at around 11 am for studies. Bam’s house is one and a half kilometers from her own.

As Nirmala did not return home by late evening, her parents and relatives informed police about the missing girl. Police, however, asked them to wait until next morning. On July 27, her naked body was recovered from a sugarcane field in Bhimdatta-18. The incident site is 500 meters from the Bam house.

A series of missteps by police in the first few hours of Nirmala’s death and the days that followed denied law enforcement ‘a golden chance’ to nab the culprit(s). 

According to officials involved in probing the police probe, one of the biggest mistakes was the failure to respond immediately to the Panta family’s request for help. The role of the police on the ground only got more and more curious in the following days. 

SP Bista, who was already under scrutiny for doing precious little to nab the culprit(s), only heightened suspicions by pressing Nirmala’s father Yagya Raj to cremate the body. More than 150 police personnel escorted the mortal remains to the Mahakali River in the midst of intense protest. It’s unclear why Bista was so desperate to have the body cremated.

Leave A Comment