The way forward in investigation

File Picture: Nepal Police IGP Sarbendra Khanal with Nirmala's parents in Kanchanpur.

Investigation of the rape and murder of teenager Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur has taken a new turn after Dilip Singh Bista of Bhimdutta-19, who was paraded by the police as the main accused, was released on Tuesday.

Bista was made public by the police on the 24th day after the incident and the police claimed that he confessed the crime. That claim of police has been falsified following his release by the District Government Attorney Office after DNA samples collected from Nirmala Panta’s body did not match with that of Bista.

Nirmala’s friend Roshani Bam, whose house she had visited before she was raped and murdered, has been handed over to guardians by the District Government Attorney Office while Roshani’s elder sister Babita has been released on bail of Rs 30,000.

Nirmala’s parents are now in Kathmandu in search of justice following the administration’s failure to identify the culprits in almost two months. They plan to meet the president and prime minister and urge them to help identify the murderers.

There are two ways forward now that the person the police paraded as the main accused has been released.

First, there should be investigation into whether Bista gave the reported statement to the police of his own volition or he was influenced by someone else.

Description of the rape and murder provided by Bista was reportedly in line with the post-mortem report. So much so that the police had said it reached conclusion that Bista was the main accused after he even correctly described the innerwear of Nirmala.

Bista’s innocence established after DNA tests hints toward two possibilities. The first, someone described all the details of the incident to Bista and asked him to confess. The police should investigate who made Bista to make the confession. The investigation must start from Bista himself.

If Bista had not made the confessions and the police had made the false claims, that proves the claims were made to save the real culprits. The investigation must now focus on all the police personnel involved at the start of investigation.

An officer with Nepal Police claims that it is still difficult to accept that the police made the false claims to save the culprits. The police officer argued that the investigation cannot depend on additional questioning of Bista as he is not mentally stable when asked why the investigation should not focus on finding out who used Bista.

“We have still kept him under the scope of investigation. He will remain under our watch,” the officer said. The fact that the police after considering Bista the main accused for three weeks now says that he is not in a stable mental state to be investigated further raises the suspicions.

The officer revealed that investigation has also been started about whether Nirmala was raped and murdered in the sugarcane field or not. “Her body was recovered in the sugarcane field. We are now reevaluating whether she was raped and murdered there or her body was disposed there,” the officer stated.

The officer said all the suspects are being investigated from different angles after Bista’s innocence was established. Bam siblings are also under the police’s watch even after their release.

“We are yet to determine who the real culprits are,” the officer said.

The second way forward for investigation now is conducting DNA tests of the suspects.

DNA profiling of the samples found in Nirmala’s body has been completed.

The locals have been making accusations identifying some individuals. The police can conduct DNA tests of those persons accused by the locals and match them with that of the samples found from Nirmala’s body.

“It would be appropriate to go for DNA tests only after collecting minimum evidence against the persons we have suspected,” the officer argued. “We feel we should not show haste for DNA tests without collecting some evidence.”

The police could have conducted DNA test of Bista and matched that with the samples collected from Nirmala’s body before parading him as the main accused. But the police acted hastily to make Bista public instead of doing DNA tests.

The fact that the police put pressure on Nirmala’s parents to file a complaint identifying Bista as the main accused had brought the police investigation under further suspicion.



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