KATHMANDU, March 1: Lalitpur District Court on Friday slapped 10-year jail sentences on all three accused in the Godamchaur rape case, 15 months after the crime. However, family members of the victim report that they are still been receiving threats from the families of those now convicted.
A single bench of Lalitpur District Judge Dhana Singh Mahara sentenced Raghu Silwal, Pawan Kunwar and Bishaldhoj Karki to 10 year jail terms. They have been convicted of brutally raping a 21-year old woman and then leaving her for dead, in the Godamchaur area in Lalitpur.
Separate cases were filed against all three– one for rape, another for attempted murder and a third for theft . The District Court slapped 10 years jail and Rs 300,000 in compensation to the victim for the rape. It also slapped 10 years jail for attempted murder, and 60 days jail and Rs 3,000 in fine for stealing money and other belongings from the rape victim.
As per the existing law, someone convicted of multiple crimes serves the sentence only for the crime attracting the highest sentence. The three will therefore serve a maximum 10 years in jail although the three separate crimes would earn them each a total of 20 years and two months in jail .
The Godamchaur rape case had drawn the attention of the entire nation. The victim was kidnapped by a gang of three while on her way home from work on November 18, 2017. A married woman, she went missing at around 7 pm and was found in a critical condition the next morning. After the rape, the culprits had hit her with a stone and left her for dead.
All three were arrested only two months ago following media exposure of how police had declined to file any case against them and how the victim's family was unable to speak up because of the continuous threats issued against them.
Money and power were apparently at play and a single bench of Lalitpur Chief District Judge Balmukunda Dawadi on January 10 ordered the release of the three arrested, without any bail. The case was revisited only after a series of media reports .
Family members of the rape victim said they have remained insecure ever since the cases were filed nine months ago. Urmila Pokharel, the victim's mother, told Republica that her daughter and her in-laws have been receiving constant threats from the families of the convicts.
“Bishaldhoj's mother even threatened my daughter's mother-in-law that she would torch her alive if she did not withdraw the case,” she said. According to her, the threats became regular in the last few months after the three were arrested.
Pokharel said her daughter and son-in-law are currently living with her while their other in-laws are in hiding. “We were under constant threat but the police have turned a blind eye,” she said.
Urmila and her daughter could not even remain in the court to hear the verdict on Friday because of open hostility from the defendants' party. “They were calling us names and using foul language in addition to threatening to throw rocks at us,” Urmila said. “The judges too seemed to be in their favor. So we had to leave even before the verdict was issued.”
She only came to know about the verdict when this reported approached her. “We are delighted and can hardly believe it,” she told Republica, “We had lost all hope of justice after the defendants started celebrating even before the verdict was announced.” She added that the verdict has given hope to all rape victims in the country .