Investigation into Chepang youth’s death in Chitwan National Park yet to concludeThe father of the deceased had filed a complaint with District Police in Chitwan against Nepal Army personnel a month ago, but no one has been booked so far.
On July 24, Bishnulal Chepang of Milantol Piple in Ward No. 2 of Rapti Municipality had filed a complaint at the District Police Office in Chitwan demanding legal action against those involved in the killing of his son, Raj Kumar. It’s already been a month since the complaint was filed but no one has been booked for the crime so far.
The Nepal Army has been accused of fatally assaulting 24-year-old Raj Kumar Chepang of Rapti Municipality Ward No. 2 on July 16. Bishnulal had filed the complaint at the District Police Office claiming that his son was tortured by the Army patrol inside Chitwan National Park, which led to his death.
Nantiraj Gurung, superintendent of police in the District Police Office in Chitwan, said, “We had received Raj Kumar’s postmortem report a few days ago. But other test reports are yet to be received. We cannot take any action until we receive the blood and viscera reports.”
On July 26, Bharatpur Hospital had sent Raj Kumar’s body to Kathmandu for postmortem.
“Further investigation will be carried out after receiving the viscera report,” said Gurung.
Arun Shrestha, chief of Batuk Battalion deployed to guard the national park, said, “I don’t have the authority to speak on this issue. If you need information on the investigation, you can contact the higher authority.”
On July 16, Raj Kumar and six of his friends, including two women, were detained by the Army patrol inside the park. They had gone to collect Ghongi, a species of snails considered a delicacy, in the Jyudi river inside the park. They were released on the same day. But Raj Kumar was taken ill after he was released and died a couple of days later on July 22, according to his father, Bishnulal.
Bishnulal says he hasn’t been following up with the case at the District Police Office, as he has been busy with the funeral arrangements for his son.
“The authorities have agreed to compensate us but we are still awaiting justice,” he said.
Nepal Chepang Sangh had also staged demonstrations after Raj Kumar’s death, demanding action against the guilty and compensation to the family.
“The authorities had agreed to provide Rs 1 million to the deceased’s family and they had also assured us that they would take action against the guilty. We had then stopped the protest programmes,” said Santa Chepang, chairman of the Ward Unit of Nepal Chepang Sangh in Rapti Ward No. 2.
On July 31, a written agreement was drafted to provide Rs 1million as relief to Raj Kumar’s family. In a meeting that was held in the District Administration Office, the park had agreed to provide Rs 700,000 and the Rapti Municipal Office had agreed to provide Rs 300,000 to the bereaved family. But so far, the family has received only Rs 100,000 for his funeral rites.
Ananath Baral, chief conservation officer at the park, said, “The park’s office has been preparing to compensate the victim’s family. But I don’t know about the investigation details.”
Meanwhile, Mayor of Rapti Municipality Prabha Baral said the municipal office will soon provide the compensation amount to Raj Kumar’s family.