Family of teenager found dead in Baitadi refuses to receive bodyThe 17-year-old girl, who did not return home from school on Wednesday, was found dead in a forest on Thursday.
Family members of the 17-year-old girl whose body was found in a forest in Baitadi on Thursday have expressed their fears of the perpetrator(s) going unpunished.
“The perpetrator(s) must be arrested soon and punished,” said Dura Bhatta, the mother of the victim.
Dura, who lost her husband two months ago, is grief-stricken after her daughter’s death.
The teenager had gone to school on Wednesday but never returned home.
A day later, she was found dead at Chadepani in Dogadakedar Rural Municipality Ward No. 7. She was a 12th grader at Sanatan Dharma Secondary School in Khochlek, Ward No. 3 of the rural municipality.
The victim’s family and friends suspect that she was raped and murdered.
Shankar Bhatta, the girl’s uncle, fears that the crime against his niece will go unsolved just like in the case of Nirmala Pant.
Pant of Kanchanpur was found dead in July 2018. But police have yet to arrest the culprit(s).
Shankar said that he does not have any complaint about the police investigation as of now but he stressed the need to maintain constant vigil so that the probe is concluded at the earliest possible and the culprits are brought to book.
“So far, police investigation is satisfactory, but they have not given us any assurances by when they can conclude the probe,” said Shankar. “Our biggest concern is that the perpetrators will go unpunished if they have links with people in high places.”
There are palpable fears among the local residents in light of the crime, and young girls of school-going age are afraid to step out of the house, said Jyoti Bhatta, one of the victim's classmates.
“I haven’t gone to school since Thursday. So many of us are scared to walk alone and have been missing classes,” she said.
The body of the victim was found in a bush on Thursday. Police and local residents had reached the incident site at around 5pm, and the body was taken to the District Hospital on Friday evening for postmortem.
The hospital administration had earlier said they would prepare the report by Sunday evening but failed to do so.
“The case is very sensitive. We were unable to prepare the report by Sunday, as there was a huge flow of patients in the hospital. We will prepare the postmortem report by Monday,” said Dr Basanta Raj Joshi, the chief at the hospital.
The victim’s family has refused to receive the body kept in the Baitadi District Hospital. They said that they would not receive the body unless the authorities arrested the perpetrators involved in the crime.
“The case may remain unsolved and go cold after we receive her body. She would then not get the justice she deserves,” said Shankar. “We don’t doubt the local administration and the police but we don’t know yet who the culprits are. We will not receive the body until they arrest the guilty.”
Meanwhile, students, teachers, civil society leaders and the general public staged demonstrations at several places in the district on Sunday, demanding justice for the teenager and immediate arrest of the culprits.
The protesters took out a rally in the district headquarters that moved around the town before converging into a corner meeting in front of the District Administration Office. They chanted slogans demanding death penalty to rapists.
“We will continue with the protest until the police arrest the culprits involved in this heinous crime,” said Nirmala Ter, a student of Jagannath Multiple Campus in Dasharathchand Municipality.
The investigation officers of the District Police Office, Provincial Police Office and Central Bureau of Investigation have been investigating the case. Deputy Inspector General of Police Uttam Kumar Subedi, also the chief at the Provincial Police Office in Sudurpaschim, reached Dogadakedar on Sunday to inquire about the incident.
“Investigation into the case is going on,” said Inspector Janak Bahadur Dhami, the information officer at the District Police Office. “A technical team is also working to track call details.”
Deputy Superintendent of Police in the District Police Office Narayan Prasad Adhikari said the officers could not disclose all information collected so far as it might affect the investigation.
“Different teams have been brought in for investigation. The criminal will be brought to book soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission has expressed serious concern over the death of the teenager. The Provincial Office of the commission in Dhangadhi has launched an investigation starting from the site where the body was found, the commission said in a statement issued on Sunday.
The commission has also urged the Nepal government to conduct a fair and effective investigation into the matter and book the culprit(s) at the earliest possible.
The constitutional human rights watchdog has also urged the government to protect the witnesses during the investigation.
“The commission also urges the government to provide relief to the victim’s family,” reads the statement.