BY D. M. THAPA
Just a little over a year has passed since the gruesome rape and murder of Nirmala Pant, a young school going girl from Bhimdutta Municipality in Kanchanpur in Far West Nepal.
This incident gave the ever ready “do-gooders”, an opportunity to show their clout and they did not fail the family members of poor victim this time as well. Everyone was up in arms, specially the opposition political leaders. Even just about a week back, a candle light vigil of various organizations took place at the Maitighar Mandala and while the leaders said the appropriate things and others shouted their usual slogans. Such protests had taken a crescendo in the few months after the inhuman crime had taken place and one person was even killed in a police firing during a protest. This further incited the people and civil society leaders and their workers organized strikes almost throughout the country and also in front of the Parliament. But to no avail.
Just a few days back, the spokesperson of the Nepal Police said they are doing their best and they will not rest till the real culprit has been arrested. Two senior police officers have also been sacked and quite rightly, questions have been raised about their handling of the case. Though the Chief of the Nepal Police said at a press meet the other day that the crime rate had gone down this year, the people have little faith in the uniformed lot, who should be protecting the people and controlling crimes, specially heinous ones. Just beating protestors with batons, arresting small time gamblers who are trying to have a good time, harassing goons and local “goondas” and also targeting soft targets like young couples or girls working in bars, are just not enough. The ‘real’ criminals, like in the Nirmala rape and murder case have to be arrested. So it is a natural question asked from all sides, whether the police are not doing enough or were negligent in the Nirmala case.
According to the victim’s mother, Durga Devi Pant, she has lost hope of finding any concrete evidence of what happened to her daughter and who were the culprits that committed such a gruesome crime. She said this to a broadsheet vernacular daily. The report also described the hard life she is living while raising her two other daughters.
In banner front page news in another popular vernacular daily, she has questioned the effectiveness of the police in solving this crime and she has also talked of how she is living a difficult life in a small hut with her two daughters. Her husband, the father of Nirmala, has left her and gotten married to another woman and lives elsewhere. Furthermore according to a TV report, she has had to suffer taunts from her neighbours and also officials who have questioned why she had to work at all. A funny question which creates all sorts of doubts. This is where she needs solace and not only slogans from the social workers who have risen against the government and the Police. Slogans and demonstrations are not enough.
According to another news report in an English Daily, there is increasing incidents of crime, specially crime against women in the country. Many may have been compelled to stay quiet for social reasons, again this is where assistance and probably even professional care of psychologists and psychiatrists may be needed.
In another news, the police themselves have quoted figures of increasing incidents of patricide and matricide amongst others, but experts agree that there may be few real experts to handle complicated cases which can be solved by DNA tests and the situation is aggravated with a severe lack of forensic experts. Even now, three criminals are serving time in jail in a case of rape, though their DNA tests didn’t match. One former police official challenged the performance of those who conducted the Nirmala case. He also gave the examples of many ‘bad apples’ within the force who are creating a bad name for the entire Nepal Police.
This writer had written a long time ago that there could be an increase in not only cases of murder or abduction, but also petty crimes and swindling of innocent people among others, when the “trained but unwanted’ fighters of the ten year old civil war were left out on the streets to fend for themselves after superficial assurances from foreigners. The hundreds of thousands of people displaced due to violence in their own villages and who flocked to city areas with no work or a decent place to live in also didn’t help matters.
Add to this the entrance of hundreds of thousands of people from poor neighbouring states of India, who made a beeline for Nepal when the Nepalese politicians magnanimously distributed Nepali citizenship to one and all keeping their eyes closed. This is something which even much richer countries could not, and still cannot afford to do. Other things like cinemas, tele-serials, specially Indian ones, and now the Internet aggression may have further aggravated the situation in smaller ways.
Our sympathies are fully with Nirmala’s mother and other members of the family who have had to face this tragedy. So no matter who is the culprit, whether they are politically close with one leader or the other, blundering probe personnel or hardened criminals, they must be found and justice should be delivered for the sake of an innocent school going girl, who lost her life because of the evil intent of some men.