Perpetrators who shot dead Rautahat temple priest remain at largePolice say the suspected shooters are hiding in India as protesters demand they are brought to justice.
Sriram Sah, a temple priest, was shot dead while having dinner outside the temple in Rautahat district on the night of August 19.
It has been nine days since the fatal shooting of the 65-year-old priest at Kherariya Tol in Madhav Narayan Municipality, and police have made no arrest so far.
Province 2 police chief Deputy Inspector General Dhiraj Pratap Singh said the police have
identified the suspected shooters who are believed to have fled across the border to India after committing the crime.
“We believe that the suspects are hiding in bordering Indian towns. We will apprehend them at any cost,” Singh said.
The police suspicion that the gunmen might have fled to India amid the coronavirus pandemic, when all cross-border movements have been heavily restricted, has raised a serious question about the security status at the southern border points.
DIG Singh said the police will launch a probe to determine the escape route of the perpetrators.
“We will take action against the police personnel deployed at the border points if they are found to have been lax during their duty hours,” said Singh.
In view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the ban on border crossing, security agencies have heightened the security along the boundary areas between Nepal and India by setting up additional border outposts.
But despite the heavy presence of security personnel along the border areas, there have been no let up in cross-border movement of people, contrabands and sometimes criminals.
Police say as Nepal and India share an open and largely unregulated border, smugglers and criminals could easily move between the two countries. They suspect that the people who shot dead Sah might have got across using the route with least police presence.
In the wake of the incident, various rights organisations have demanded a proper investigation into Sah’s murder and bring the culprits to book.
The people who knew Sah remember him as a mild-mannered, genial person. He had left his house in the same municipality after his wife’s death some 10 years ago.
He came to Kherariya Tol and built the temple for Hanuman where he lived alone. Locals said the temple was renovated last year under Sah’s guidance.
Two weeks prior to his murder, locals said Sah had had an altercation with an unknown group.
Mayor of Madhav Narayan Municipality Birendra Prasad Yadav said that the same group could have murdered Sah.
“He was one of the friendliest people in the area. Why would anyone kill him?” said Yadav.
Police said the motive behind Sah’s murder is still a matter of investigation.
Sah’s body was discovered by police when they reached the temple after reports about gunshots in the area.
“We found his body outside the temple. He was lying beside his plate of unfinished meal,” said DSP Bharat Shrestha, spokesperson for the District Police Office.
Sah’s murder has sparked protests in many parts of the country, including Dang and Sunsari districts.
The Rautahat-chapter of Bishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu organisation, recently submitted a memorandum to the Chief District Officer Indra Dev Yadav demanding that the authorities catch Sah’s murderers and bring them to justice.
“It’s been almost 10 days since the crime and the police have not made any arrests yet. It is our demand that the perpetrators are captured at the earliest,” said Om Prakash Bhai Madhesiya of the Parishad.