Nirmala Pant : The investigation into the rape and murder of Nirmala Pant, a 13-year-old girl from Kanchanpur has been left unattended for months by the Police Headquarters. The body of Nirmala Pant was found murdered after being raped at Ukhubari in Bhimdatta Municipality-18, Nimbukheda of Kanchanpur on July 29, 2008. On the 26th day of the incident, the District Police Office, Kanchanpur, sent a piece of shirt found at the spot to check the fiber, but it has not been checked yet.
The legitimacy of the so-called “clue” found in the investigation of the incident has not been confirmed. A team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from Kathmandu had arrested Dilip Singh Bista at around 8.30 pm on September 20, 23 days after the incident. In a conversation with DSP Angur GC from the Central Bureau of Investigation, Dilip had told about the shirt he wore on the day of the incident and the sky blue underwear. Nirmala Pant
On the same day that the District Police Office made Dilip Singh Bista public as the main accused, the police also recovered a torn shirt from his house. Immediately (August 19), a torn piece of the same color shirt was found at the scene. Police had seized the shirt and other belongings from Dilip’s house along with the ward chairman. Police also took Dilip’s father to the spot.
Looking at the photo of the piece of shirt found at the scene, one can see the presence of some other people including the police. When the fiber was not checked in time, rumors spread that the police had torn the piece of the shirt and brought it to Dilip’s house. If the piece of shirt found at the scene is part of the shirt recovered from Dilip’s house, it has to be confirmed by testing the fiber from the laboratory.
Kanchanpur of JIPRA sent a piece of shirt found at the spot and a sample of the shirt recovered from Dilip Singh Bista’s house on August 26, 2075 to the Central Police Forensic Science Laboratory. In the letter, it has been requested to test the black and white striped shirt and goji piece (which looks like a pocket) found at the spot.
Six days after the letter was sent, on November 29, after the laboratory sent a letter stating that the test could not be conducted, JIPRA sent the same sample to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police Headquarters. On November 3, the department informed the Secretariat of the Inspector General of Police about the sample to be tested.
The next day, on November 3, the Criminal Investigation Department had sent the sample to the Secretariat of the then Inspector General of Police Sarvendra Khanal. The Ministry of Home Affairs had decided to take initiative to test the samples through the Indian Embassy in a well-equipped forensic lab as there is no facility for fiber testing in Nepal. Nirmala Pant
Two days after the Home Secretary’s decision, the Home Ministry’s Police Personnel Administration Branch informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the decision. However, it seems that it took about two weeks for the foreign ministry to complete the administrative process. While studying the copies of some of the internal correspondence received by Kantipur, it seems that the foreign ministry has taken the initiative to take forward the process of fiber inspection through the Nepalese Embassy in Delhi, India.
However, in cases of serious nature, such an initiative should be taken through a speedy process and the Police Headquarters should show readiness for the same. Although various committees have been formed and reports have been prepared in the investigation of the complicated Nirmala Pant case, the Police Headquarters has not been able to expedite the investigation in time.
It seems that the Nepali embassy in Delhi informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the lab that can test the fiber on December 29, about five months after Zipra’s Kanchanpur sent a letter with a sample requesting for a fiber test. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately informed the Ministry of Home Affairs about this, the Police Headquarters did not seem to be interested in the progress of the sample testing for 16 months.
One month after the retirement of Sarvendra Khanal from the post of Inspector General of Police and the appointment of Thakur Gyawali as the Inspector General, the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police seems to have written to the Central Police Forensic Science Laboratory about the same pattern. The letter signed by AIG Hari Bahadur Pal of the department has directed to send the physical evidence of the sample to the designated lab for fiber examination.
Even after two months of such correspondence, no progress has been made in the sample test. Police spokesperson DIG Neeraj Bahadur Shahi said that the sample of fiber test has not been sent to the lab. He said the process of sending samples for testing was underway. Asked why there was no readiness for the sample test even after 16 months of correspondence from the Nepali embassy in Delhi, he said it was still in process. “It simply came to our notice then.
Many hoped that Thakur Gyawali, who became the Inspector General of Police in the last week of January, 2076, would expedite the investigation into the Nirmala Pant case and bring out some new facts. While at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the present Inspector General of Police Gyawali along with DSP Kamal Thapa had reached Kanchanpur in the third week of September 2075 BS to investigate the case. Nirmala Pant
Meanwhile, SP Dilliram Bista, then chief of Zipra’s Kanchanpur, and DSP Angur GC, who was deployed by the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident, are still suing the district court in Kanchanpur on the charge of destroying evidence. The case of torturing Dilip Singh Bista against four persons including SP Bista and DSP GC is also under consideration in the court. All of them are still suspended as the case was registered in the court in February, 2008.
The DNA of Dilip Singh Bista, who was arrested during the DNA profiling of the semen found in the vaginal swab taken from Nirmala’s body, did not match with her DNA and was released on bail on September 10, 2008. Since then, on suspicion of being involved in the incident, Zipra’s Kanchanpur has arrested Kayan and released him taking statements. However, the police have not been able to reach a final conclusion as to who was involved in the incident and the real culprit has not been made public.
Former AIG scientist Raj Sharma, who has been investigating the Nirmala Pant case in a team including the Human Rights Commission, said that the investigation could be affected if the issues raised in the complex incident are not resolved as soon as possible. He questioned why the fiber test of the piece of shirt found at the scene was not done quickly.
He said that if the investigation was not carried out in time, the police investigation would be questioned by the general public and the investigation would not be able to take the right direction in time. Former AIG Sharma said that the police had experience of testing evidence in foreign labs in the past in cases of serious abductions and frauds. “Even in the case of Nirmala Pant, the evidence should have been tested in time.”
As soon as he was appointed as the Inspector General, Gyawali had promised to unravel the complicated Nirmala Pant case during his five-month tenure. He also promised to look into the matter with interest as it was a self-imposed case. But with two weeks left in his term, he has not done much to resolve the issue. However, the order of the letter written by the work and crime investigation during his tenure has not been implemented even after two months. Contrary to his promise, Inspector General Gyawali will leave without resolving the case of Nirmala Pant?
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