The Home Ministry in another attempt to answer ‘unsolved questions’ has asked the National Forensic Science Laboratory in Khumaltar to investigate the DNA sample collected from the vaginal swab of Nirmala Panta. Panta, a 13 year old girl was raped and murdered in Kanchanpur District on July 26 – exactly 14 months ago. Her mutilated body was found in a sugarcane field the next day.
The National Forensic Science Laboratory, under Nepal government’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is independent of police intervention – in the past, DNA investigation of the same was done by Central Police Forensic Science Laboratory of Nepal Police. Their investigation was unable to provide any lead toward the perpetrator.
The new technical team, led by DNA expert Jeevan Rijal, as per media reports, will re-examine the vaginal swab to see if they can provide any fresh insight towards the incident.
Nirmala Panta’s rape/murder incident had sparked several protests across the country – starting from Kanchanpur public demanding a safer place for its community, the incident initiated several other dialogues within the public, ‘rising rape incidents’ and ‘police accountability’ at the crux.
Thousands of publics in prolonged protests continued to demand justice for the 13 year old – mainly fueled after public realised the ‘perpetrator would probably never be arrested because of the carelessness of police-personnel handling the case’. A high level probe later reiterated the same:
- Police tampered with evidence on the crime scene itself – washing Nirmala Panta’s clothes.
- Recorded and collected evidence such as Panta’s clothing were missing.
- Police did not seal the crime scene immediately.
- Police presented a fake culprit – the report also says he was forced to make an ‘admission of guilt’.
- The police forced the family to perform the last rites of Panta.
The probe also suggested the crime was committed elsewhere, and her body later dumped.
The newly formed probe committee has been given 15 days to submit their findings. The National Forensic Science Laboratory refused to comment on any optimism – “we will have to wait for the results”, they have said, and we need to relay the same message.