The parents of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta, who was raped and murdered in Kanchanpur district one-and-a-half months ago, look emotionally drained and burned-out. They have been constantly reaching out to authorities and talking to numerous investigating officials since the horrific incident took place, in hope justice would be swiftly dispensed. Over the days, the incident has turned into a high-profile case, as hundreds have marched through the streets of Kanchanpur and many others have protested on social media, sparking nationwide outrage. Yet authorities still seem clueless about the person who committed the grisly act.
The parents of Nirmala have completed an excruciating journey of over 35 hours on a public bus (due to gridlock on the highway), and arrived in the federal capital this morning to draw the attention of the central government towards the case.Yagya Raj, 38, and Durga Devi, 35, the father and mother of Nirmala, are hoping to meet high-level government officials, including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, in the coming days to explain “the rape and murder, mistreatment at the hands of authorities and how the police badly bungled the case”.
“The authorities mistreated us from the Day One of the incident despite the fact that we were the victims,” Yagya Raj told THT. “The police didn’t even let us shed tears right after we came to know about our daughter’s death. They used harsh language and dragged us to their office and district administration office every now and then. The chief district officer, who has now been transferred, on the other hand, exerted pressure on us to cremate the body immediately instead of focusing on rounding up the criminals.”
The CDO and district police chief of Kanchanpur, who were initially looking into the case, have been recalled and replaced with new officials. Yet the attitude of authorities towards Nirmala’s parents has not changed, according to Sharada Chand, a representative of Collective Campaign for Peace (CoCAP), an NGO, that brought Nirmala’s parents to Kathmandu. “How can we expect justice to be delivered under these circumstances?” questioned Durga Devi. “What is even more worrying is all the evidences at the crime scene have been erased by the police. Worse, the investigation is not headed in the right direction, which is creating more confusion.”