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With new arrest, police say they will crack Nirmala murder case soon

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Dec 7, 2018-

More than four months after the mystery rape and murder of 13-year old Nirmala Pant in Kanchanpur, police say they have narrowed down probe and are close to arresting the guilty.

Inspector General of Police Sarbendra Khanal told the Post that the investigation was going in full pace. “Those suspected to have a link with the case are being called and interrogated. The case has narrowed down to a few people now.”

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) arrested Pradip Rawal, a neighbour of Nirmala, from Kathmandu a couple of days ago. Khanal and CIB Director Deputy Inspector General Niraj Bahadur Shahi interrogated Rawal from 10pm on Wednesday to 2am on Thursday, according to police.

The development comes at a time when the law enforcement and the government face mounting public pressure to find leads in the high-profile crime. Two police officers from Kanchanpur have been sacked for destroying the evidence when the girl’s body was found on July 27.

In August, Dilip Singh Bista, a local, was arrested for his suspected role in the crime but was released later after his DNA sample tested negative against the victim’s vaginal swab. More individuals, including police officials, were subjected to DNA tests but none has been implicated in the case.

“We have sent the DNA sample of Rawal for test and are awaiting the report,” said Khanal, expressing hope that the report would give us a new direction in the case.

Two other men—Dinesh Chaudhary and Sandip Chaudhary—of Kanchanpur have also been sent to Kathmandu at the order of the police headquarters.

“We got a call from Kathmandu to send two individuals. They are flying to the Capital with their relatives,” said DSP Krishna Ojha, the investigating officer, from Kanchanpur.

According to relatives, Rawal was a drug-addict who used to be inebriated most of the time. “He did drugs. He has a gang of drug users in Kanchanpur,” said Bal Bahadur Rawal, Pradip’s uncle.

Kanchanpur police is also searching for four other individuals for their dubious roles in the case.

“We had some suspects whom the locals didn’t recognise,” said Ojha, the deputy superintendent, adding that they had got a sketch artist to prepare their images. Search of those individuals is said to have been intensified.

SSP Dhiraj Pratap Singh, chief of the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, said the sketch artist they sent to Kanchanpur some three weeks ago prepared four sketches.

While none of the four has been arrested, police suspect that the case might involve more than one individual.

Protests have intensified across the country as police fail to assure the public that the culprit(s) will be brought to justice.

On Thursday, police arrested 12 campaigners demanding justice for Nirmala from the gate of the presidential office in Maharajgunj. They were carrying a banner that read “I’m Nirmala. I have come under the shelter of my President.”

“Our female president is quiet when cases of sexual violence against women and children are increasing. We have gathered to awake her to perform her responsibility towards her citizen. How long will she remain quiet in this issue,” said Pritam Subedi, an activist who was arrested.

Kanchanpur also saw a huge protest rally on Thursday. People who had gathered to form a human chain assembled for a rally when students joined the protest in huge numbers.

(Bhawani Bhatta contributed to this report)

Published: 07-12-2018 07:31

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