Kathmandu, September 16
Nepal Police Headquarters has formed a high-level investigation panel headed by Deputy Inspector General Dhiru Basnyat to probe lapses and negligence of all police personnel who were previously assigned to identify and bring to book culprits in Nirmala Panta’s rape and murder.
The panel comprises Senior Superintendent of Police Niraj Bahadur Shahi and deputy superintendents of police Ramesh Thapa and Dadhiram Neupane, besides technical officers as members. It comes a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs suspended five cops — DSPs Gyan Bahadur Sethi and Angur GC, inspectors Jagadish Bhatta and Ekendra Khadka and assistant sub-inspector Ramsingh Dhami — for botching up the probe. The then Kanchanpur district police chief, Superintendent of Police Dilliram Bista, was suspended 14 days ago.
Nepal Police Spokesperson SSP Shailesh Thapa Kshetri told THT that the DIG Basnyat-led panel would replace SSP Uttam Kumar Subedi-led panel to broaden the scope of investigation of police personnel who allegedly manipulated the probe in a bid to frame Dilip Singh Bista while letting real culprits off the hook. Dilip was let off after his DNA profile did not match the sample collected from the victim’s vaginal swab.
DIG Basnyat-led panel will also conduct polygraph test on the implicated cops besides analysing their call detail records and quizzing them. It will submit a report with recommendation for action against the guilty as soon as possible. “The new panel has been mandated to probe the role of police personnel who bungled the criminal investigation and sullied the image of police,” SSP Kshetri said.
He added that the probe would not focus on who raped and killed Nirmala, as a team led by SSP Thakur Prasad Gyawali of Central Investigation Bureau has already been assigned to Kanchanpur for this purpose and has launched a fresh investigation.
Meanwhile, police personnel who worked as part of criminal investigation under the suspended SP Bista have been recalled to Kathmandu for their statements.
A MoHA source said those found guilty by the Basnyat-led panel of manipulating the rape and murder probe to serve their interests would face dismissal and may be rendered disqualified to hold any government position. The DIG-led panel will also oversee and monitor the criminal investigation by SSP Gyawali-led panel in Kanchanpur.
A version of this article appears in print on September 17, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.