Investigation into the Soti incident starts on FridaySurvivors of the incident and victims’ families say locals and people’s representatives in Rukum (West) are trying to save the perpetrators of the crime by misguiding the investigation.
A five-member team formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs has started investigation into the Soti incident from Friday.
On May 23, the villagers of Soti in Chaurjahari Municipality, Rukum (West), had chased away Nabaraj BK and 18 of his friends after learning that the group had come to take Nabaraj’s 17-year-old girlfriend.
A day later, the bodies of Nabaraj and his friend Tikaram Sunar, both of whom were Dalits, were found on the banks of the Bheri river. So far, the bodies of Ganesh Budha, Lokendra Sunar and Sandip BK, who went missing in the incident, have been recovered from the river that borders the districts of Jajarkot and Rukum (West) in Karnali Province. Search for Gobinda Shahi of Bheri Municipality-11 is underway.
According to Jajarkot District Hospital, viscera samples of the deceased have been collected and sent to the forensic science laboratory in Kathmandu for tests.
On Tuesday, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had told the National Assembly that the government had formed a five-member team to investigate the incident that has gained national attention and prompted rallies in different parts of the country..
On Friday, the team, led by Jitendra Basnet, a joint secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, inspected the incident site and met with the victims’ families.
Dalit activists in Jajarkot have also submitted a memorandum to the team and demanded strong action against the guilty. Receiving the memo, Basnet, who is also the coordinator of the team, said his team will conduct an impartial investigation on the basis of the mandate provided by the government.
“We will release our report soon. We will bring out the facts surrounding the incident through fair investigation,” he said.
However, survivors of the incident and the victims’ families say that the locals and people’s representatives in Rukum (West) are trying to save the perpetrators of the crime by misleading the investigation. The families of the victims have filed a murder complaint at the District Police Office in Rukum (West) against 20 villagers of Soti.
Eighteen people, including Dambar Bahadur Malla, the ward chairman of Chaurjahari-8, are currently in police custody. Chairman Malla has been accused of informing the villagers about Nabaraj and his friends arriving in the village. Meanwhile, two persons who were involved in the incident are still at large.
According to Munalal BK, Nawaraj’s father, local leaders are trying to save chairman Malla, who is one of the main accused of the incident, by misleading the investigation.
On Friday, the Nepal Communist Party in Rukum (West) issued a press note clarifying that the party will help conduct a fair investigation of the incident. Some assembly members of Karnali Province have also met with the victims’ families and assured them of just investigation.