Kanchanpur police to launch fresh probe into Nirmala Pant rape and murder after a new committee scrapped earlier report by Dhiru BasnyatWe will go through the new report and review all the circumstantial evidence, Kanchanpur police chief says.
A new review committee formed by the Nepal Police last week scrapped an earlier report prepared by its own official on Nirmala Pant rape and murder case.
The Deputy Inspector General Suraj KC-led committee said the report prepared by Additional Inspector Dhiru Basnyat had ignored the ongoing police investigation and the progress that had been made in the case and prepared the report largely based on public sentiments rather than facts.
Thirteen-year-old Pant was found raped and murder on July 27, 2018 in Kanchanpur. The rape and murder case, which is yet to be resolved, has emerged as a litmus test for the Nepal Police.
Kanchanpur police on August 20 that year presented Dilip Singh Bista, 41, as the primary accused in Pant’s rape and murder, saying investigation and circumstantial evidence showed him to be the culprit. However, locals refused to accept Bista as the culprit and demanded his release, accusing the police of framing him. After a week, Bista was sent to Kathmandu for a medical examination. Police were subsequently forced to release Bista as his DNA did not match the sample collected from Pant’s vaginal swab.
A month later, the Nepal Police Headquarters on September 16, 2018 formed a committee under Basnyat to investigate the case.
Basnyat committee's report and another report by a team of Home Ministry joint secretary Hari Prasad Mainali had indicated that Bista was innocent.
Based on Basnyat's report, SP Dilliraj Bista and Inspector Jagadish Prasad Bhatta were sacked by the Ministry of Home Affairs on October 25, 2018 while six other police officials were suspended for bungling the investigation.
Separate cases have also been filed against sacked SP Bista and Inspector Bhatta.
With the KC-led review committee scrapping the Basnyat committee report, questions are now being asked how the investigation will move forward and what happens to those police officials who were sacked for making a bungle of the investigation.
“Cases against these police officials are also being looked at by the court," said Deputy Inspector General Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, spokesperson for the Nepal Police. "So the court will decide on their cases."
In November 2018, both sacked police officials had made an appeal at the Cabinet through the Home Ministry for their reinstatement, as per the existing legal procedure which allows to make an appeal within 35 days of being sacked.
After KC's report, the Nepal Police Headquarters now has directed Kanchanpur District Police Office to launch fresh investigation into the Pant rape and murder case.
“We have directed Kanchanpur District Police Office to review the previous reports and investigate the case from the beginning without being influenced by the previous reports,” Kshetri told the Post.
The KC committee report suggests that the initial police investigation showing Dilip Singh Bista as the major culprit to be correct.
According to Superintendent Mukunda Marasaini, chief of Kanchanpur District Police Office, they are preparing to launch fresh investigation into the case and going through the new report. “We haven’t received any directive from the headquarters, but we are reviewing all the circumstantial evidence,” Marasaini told the Post over the phone.
This story has been updated.
The following corrections have been made to the story. We apologise for the oversight.
i. The earlier version incorrectly said: “the eight police personnel, two of whom were sacked, could be deemed innocent…”
ii. The earlier version failed to mention SP Dilliraj Bista and Inspector Jagadish Prasad Bhatta were sacked by the Home Ministry and that both of them have made an appeal to the Cabinet for their reinstatement.
iii. The earlier version lacked an independent sentence to mention sacked SP Bista and Inspector Bhatta are also facing charges in a district court.
iv. A speculative statement inadvertently went into the earlier copy that “the case against the eight police personnel, including Bista and Bhatta, punished over their handling of the murder, has weakened further.”