After Ram Bomjon de facto legitimized the kidnapping and torture of women, their hostage-holding and rape in 2012, sexual violence against women unleashed in an unprecedented amount in the country of Gautama Buddha. 13 years old rape and murder victim, Nirmala Pant’s case is an exclamation mark, a symbol of the same police cover-ups and the injustice that Bomjon’s victims already know much too well. Protecting the culprits, ensuring impunity to them, if they have political connections and support of the rich and powerful of Nepal, was the reason that the dangerous cult could have continued with the brutality against women even after 2012, victimizing dozens of other people and even having hands in two deaths. Will the real culprits of Nirmala Pant’s rape and murder also get freedom to continue their diabolic acts, after the police gives them a green light, as they did to Ram Bomjon, while innocent men will be arrested instead…?
Featured image: Nirmala’s bereaved mother. Source: The Kathmandu Post
According to the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 1,131 cases of rape were registered in 2017. The number of reported rape cases has jumped 256 percent in the past decade. On average, 78 rape cases are reported in Nepal every month. Thousand more, however, go unreported because of a perceived stigma and a loss of privacy.
A day before Nirmala Pant’s brutal death had hit the Nepalese media, suddenly her name bubbled up in my mind. Not leaving me alone, it was repeating: Nirmala Pant, Nirmala Pant. That time I thought that I just have remembered that kind businesswoman from Thamel, who bought me a tea and food when I broke into tears from being hungry… She was very kind to me, not looking down at me because of my extreme poverty as a victim of crime whose life had been destroyed by Ram Bahadur Bomjon and his gang. She behaved t me with respect, and gave me her visit card… Many times I got that visit card in my hands, but I have contacted her only a few times during these years.
Why did I suddenly hear her name in my mind? Did something happen to her? I have learnt it soon, the following day, when another person of the same name appeared in the news. Yet this Nirmala Pant (a very common name in Nepal) was 13 years old, and she had been brutally murdered after an apparent gang-rape. I thought then, this case will turn upside-down the country, because there is something very fishy in it. Not that all the (nearly daily!) cases of rape and rape-and-murder of other innocent children and women in Nepal would be of less importance. The only difference in this case is that, from the very beginning, the police had shown a very strange behavior, destroying evidence (for example burning the victim’s clothes) and postponing investigation. Although the English language Nepali media was not allowed to openly write – for too many days after the incident – about the reasons why are Kanchanpur residents demonstrating on a daily basis, and why did they force a “banda” (curfew) on all Nepal for a day. Yet Nepalis all over the country knew it from the beginning: the suspects had been two young men, one the son of a police officer, the other the cousin of the Mayor:
“According to Nirmala’s family source, Nirmala had gone to Babita and Roshani’s place at around 11 am on the day when the incident was taken place. However, she didn’t return home until 5 pm. Babita, instead of giving detailed information, had performed negative attitude.The next day, Nirmala’s dead body was recovered.
According to the locals, two youths were regular visitors at Babita and Roshani’s place. The two youths were son of SP Dilliraj Bista and nephew of Mayor Surendra Bista.”
A detailed chronological description of the events can be found on Online Khabar .
The fishy facts behind this case had been endorsed to appear in Nepali English media only in recent days. It is 70 days after the murder of Nirmala Pant, but the DNA test had been conducted only recently, at the pressure of the public, and finally also the Government. THT had a few separate articles about the Nirmala Pant case, and only in one short text did it state the opinion of an anonymous investigator, ho said that the biological material for testing DNA (vaginal smear) of the rapists had been not handled according to the recommended procedure, and thus the fact that the DNA did not match the finally arrested suspect’s sperm’s DNA, cannot be considered as a proof:
The statement issued by police, however, has not mentioned how and where the DNA test of Nirmala’s vaginal swab was conducted. DNA test of the suspect must be cross-checked with the DNA sample collected from the vaginal swab of the victim to prove their involvement in the crime. Police have also not mentioned anything about how the sample was collected.
A member of one of the investigation committees formed to investigate the case told THT that the sample was collected without following necessary procedure and was not stored properly. He also raised question over the quantity of the sample collected for the test.
Instead of the real suspects, the police had arrested a mentally ill man, a vulnerable person, so that they can cover up the high-profile suspects. There is no wonder that after so many discrepancies, Nepalis in the West, but as well in Kathmandu, are protesting and staging demonstrations and hunger strikes.
Dilli Raj Bista, a police commander, has been suspended following accusations of cover-ups and mishandling the Nirmala Pant rape and murder. In fact, the family had refused to receive Nirmala’s body demanding that the authorities arrest and prosecute the perpetrators first. However, chilling details have now revealed that the District Administration Office, Kanchanpur, coerced the family into cremating the victim’s body in a low-key funeral that was guarded by police personnel. Instead of serving justice, the police is indulging in tampering with the evidence and resorting to using force to silence protestors.
Nirmala Pant is the martyr of Nepal’s police corruption, a symbol of an extreme case of handling a criminal deed. It shows that justice is not the same for everyone in Nepal, and we could see similar cover-ups on a regular basis, anytime Ram Bomjon had attacked, kidnapped, beat, tortured or let raped women and men. While there was plenty of evidence, witness accounts and even videos and photos proving his brutal deeds, the police never prosecuted him or his dozens of crime-assistants. They enjoy a great respect and are treated as spiritual celebrities in Nepal, and even invited by two former Prime Ministers!
If justice is not for everyone, than it is no justice at all. In Western democracies, if even a president rapes, beats to blood, fractures someone’s bones or holds hostages – he or she would be not only prosecuted, but also lose his position. There are many cases in the USA and Europe of such justice. If a democracy do not ensure justice for the poor, the vulnerable and underprivileged, but only to those who can pay more and have contacts in high places – then the very base of that democracy is annulled!
“Nepal Police has come under criticism like never before. Some recent incidents questioned the efficiency, performance and transparency of the security agency, once considered one of the best in criminal investigation and law enforcement in the world.”
Yet, how can we expect that Nirmala’s rapists and murderers are caught and punished, while Ram Bomjon is allowed to create impenetrable secret jungle compounds and kidnap women and men, ordering the beating and rape of the former ones, by Government and police approval? When rape victims of Bomjon’s gang and torture and violence victims of Bomjon himself have to see how hundreds of State-paid policemen and army personnel are guarding the fake “Buddha Boy” during his megalomanic Maitri Puja in Kathmandu, how can anyone think that justice is fair, equal and does not discriminate in Nepal?
Image above: the demonstration demanding justice for Nirmala. Source: https://theeverestnepal.com/182/
Nirmala now has become a symbol of crusade against sexual violence and stands for all those who have fallen victims to sexual predators. This case is about the fight against the nonchalant attitude the state often shows towards heinous crimes like sexual violence and rape. This is also about justice and human rights. Public’s persistent calls for justice to Nirmala now have become a movement which demands upholding of human rights. It is also a movement that seeks to lay bare how politicians and police often tend to work hand in glove to protect criminals.