Editorial

No justice, no peace

  • Police incompetence is turning the tragic Nirmala Panta case into a farce

Sep 13, 2018-

The rape and murder of 13-year old Nirmala Panta has been a misfortune that refuses to lay itself to rest. New revelations and twists in the tale keep arising, turning the tragedy into a heartless farce. On Tuesday, Kanchanpur District Police released three persons of interest—Dilip Bista, Roshani Bam and Babita Bam—after finding no evidence linking them to the crime. Bista, who police had paraded in public as guilty even before a trial, was released after forensic tests showed that his DNA did not match samples taken from the teenager’s body. Sisters Roshani and Babita Bam—whose home Nirmala had visited before being found murdered in a sugarcane field on July 27—were released on advice from the District Attorney’s Office. To further complicate matters, Birendra KC, member of a Home Ministry probe panel formed to investigate the case, had resigned on Monday citing death threats from “powerful” interests. On Wednesday, KC returned to the panel after assurances of security from the government. 

Ever since Nirmala’s rape and murder was first reported, this case has invited much public remonstration. The manner in which the Kanchanpur police pursued the case led to public protests, following which the police produced Bista as the accused. The public did not buy this attempt to pin the crime on a mentally-challenged individual with a criminal past. Mass protests continued and turned violent, prompting the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to launch its own inquiry and the Home Ministry to form the afore-mentioned independent probe panel. The public has been vindicated, as DNA evidence exonerated Bista and the NHRC discovered several lapses on the part of the Kanchanpur police, including mishandling and destruction of evidence from the crime scene, leading to investigative difficulties. 

All of these developments signal a breakdown of law and order. That the police has failed to make much headway on the case a month and a half since the incident is cause enough for concern. But the fact that a government official felt insecure enough to resign from an independent probe panel is doubly alarming. The work of the Kanchanpur police has been found sorely wanting. Local crimes are under the jurisdiction of the local police; the federal level should not need to intercede by forming a probe committee.

This sorry state of affairs has gone on long enough. It is an insult to Nirmala’s memory and her family that her murder continues to become a focal point for the country to hash out in public. The devastation wreaked on her family by her death was horrid enough; the ensuing commotion is undoubtedly making things worse. What the family desires is for the perpetrator(s) to be brought to justice and hence, achieve closure. To this end, the Kanchanpur police must act decisively and intelligently. All avenues of investigation must be explored thoroughly and the perpetrator caught before it is too late. All eyes are on Kanchanpur. Nirmala cannot be allowed to become yet another shamefully unsolved case that fades into the annals of history. 

Published: 13-09-2018 07:54

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