Kathmandu, February 10
Police headquarters has written to Kanchanpur District Police directing it to investigate the 26 July 2018 rape and murder of 13-years-old Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur on the basis of new investigation report prepared by a review committee under the leadership of Deputy Inspector General Suraj KC, not as per the previous report prepared by Assistant Inspector General Dhiru Basnet.
The move is seen as crucial into the investigation of Nirmala’s case as the Basnet report had said that police botched up the investigation to frame innocent Dilip Singh Bista as the perpetrator. Based on the same report the government had also fired the then Kanchanpur police head superintendent of Police Dilli Raj Bista and Inspector Jagdish Bhatta and suspended six other police officers for not undertaking their duties as required. Among the sacked was Deputy Superintendent of Police Aangur GC who was accused of framing ‘mentally challenged’ Dilip Singh, and torturing Dilip Singh.
The later report of the review committee, however, has acquitted the cops involved in the crime stating that Dhiru Basnet report was made under influence of nationwide protest that followed the rape and murder of Nirmala. KC’s report has asked not to implement Basnet’s report.
DIG Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, spokesperson of Nepal Police said, “The letter was written with an intention of adjudication of police officers who were suspended not to affect the crime investigation of the case.” Angur GC who was deployed from Central Investigation Bureau has not returned to his duty yet.
The police claim was refuted by activists and members of civil society.
Advocate Badri Prasad Bhusal who has been closely observing the case, however, said, “Police not only tried to acquit all the sacked police officers related to the case but also to establish the old belief that Dilip Singh was the perpetrator of the crime, without any physical evidences.”
Similar claim was made by Kanchanpur based activist Sharada Chand who said it was farcical that police scrapped the report of a senior official and enforced the report made by the review committee under a junior officer. “We suspected that police would take such action, since suspended police officer GC, who had at a public forum called Dilip Singh the perpetrator, was seen around Kanchanpur, influencing the case.”
Advocate Bhusal also said that suspended DSP GC was seen with the head of Nepal Police Inspector General Police Sarbendra Khanal when he visited the far-western district around two months ago.
Kanchanpur Police sources also said that suspended GC could be often found around Kanchanpur District Police Office, even though he did not have any job there.
Dilip Singh’s elder brother Khadga Singh Bista, had, on January 14 last year, filed an FIR against fired SP Bista, suspended DSP Angur GC, DSP Gyan Bahadur Sethi and Inspector Ekendra Khadka accusing them of torturing Dilip Singh in police custody.
Dilip Singh was arrested from his house in Kanchanpur more than a month after the rape and murder. Police had claimed his behaviour was suspicious and held him for several days in police custody. Dilip Singh’s explanation to human rights activists after being released had suggested that he was waterboarded by the police while in custody.
AIG Basnet’s report says that police had deliberately torn a pocket from Dilip Singh’s old clothes from his home and left it at the crime scene along with new condom covers to prove he had committed the crime.
The DNA sample from the vaginal swab also didn’t match with Dilip Singh’s DNA.
A version of this article appears in print on February 11, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.