Home Ministry sacks Bista and Bhatta

  • Though removed from force for gross negligence in Nirmala Pant rape and murder case, the duo is eligible for government service in future
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Oct 26, 2018-

The Home Ministry on Thursday sacked suspended Kanchanpur police chief SP Dilliraj Bista and Inspector Jagadish Prasad Bhatta from service with immediate effect for mishandling initial probe into the July rape and murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Pant.

Though the government removed the two officers following widespread criticism and public outrage, they will be eligible for government service in future, according to the Home Ministry.

The decision came after the clarifications furnished by Bista and Bhatta were not conceiving. Both the officers had denied negligence on their part while investigating the case. The ministry removed them from service based on the Nepal Police Regulations.

After initial investigation revealed that Bista and Bhatta destroyed evidence in the rape and murder case, and failed to address the grievances of the victim’s relatives and stakeholders, the Nepal Police Headquarters suspended Bista on August 26 and Bhatta on September 16. The ministry had also formed a high-level team headed by Joint-secretary Hari Prasad Mainali to find out facts about the fate of Nirmala who disappeared from her house in Bhimdutta Municipality on July 26. Her body was found the next day.

Even after widespread protests, the ministry and the police force have failed to trace the culprits. Inspector General Sarbendra Khanal, on October 15, had recommended that the ministry sack the duo for their dubious roles. IG Khanal had also met the victim’s parents during his field visit in the face of growing public outrage.

The police failed to meet the minimum requirements of investigation and destroyed the evidences of rape and murder, the Home Ministry stated. Nirmala’s undergarments had disappeared and her genital area was washed in an apparent bid to destroy the evidence. It also stated that the local police unit had written to the Nepal Police Forensic Laboratory to change the sample--a set of blue inner clothes and brown jeans.

Citing the Mainali-led panel, the ministry said the Pant family and their relatives were coerced into cremating the victim’s body while the police used excessive force to contain protests in Kanchan-pur following the incident.

Bista and Bhatta were the first to be recommended for dismissal among the two dozen officials subjected to investigation by the team led by AIG Dhiru Basnyat for gross mishandling of the rape case. The recommendation followed analysis of the report submitted by the Mainali committee, IG Khanal’s field visit and preliminary briefing by AIG Basnyat.

The ministry had asked the two officers to clarify why they should not be sacked, first on October 21 and then on October 24 after their response was not satisfactory. Final report of the Basnyat panel is due to recommend the dismissal of more officers, accused of tampering with the evidence at the scene where Nirmala’s body was found. SP Bista was also accused of parading an innocent—41-year-old mentally ill Dilip Singh Bista--as the main culprit.

Published: 26-10-2018 07:31

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