Bishal Chaudhary, one of the suspects in the Nirmala Pant murder case, has been released from police custody after he was cleared by DNA evidence. His release comes at a time when police have been insisting that Bishal and the other suspect, Pradip Rawal, have confessed to raping and murdering 13-year-old Nirmala in Bhimdattanagar, Kanchanpur, on July 26.
Chaudhary, who was being detained in Kathmandu, was brought to Kanchanpur on Saturday morning and handed over to his family. Following his release, Chaudhary told the media that he had admitted to the crime because he was tortured in custody.
“I was tortured on the day I was arrested. They (police) had threatened me not to speak about it in Kathmandu and admit to the crime without resisting,” he said, claiming that he had confessed out of fear.
Chaudhary was arrested from Mahendranagar on December 6. Chaudhary’s father Bir Bahadur also accused the police of using threat and coercion to extract confession from his innocent son.
Earlier, Bir Bahadur had claimed that police in Kathmandu had drugged his son to make him admit to the crime that he had not committed.
Another suspect Rawal is still in police custody in Kathmandu. Police are verifying his DNA sample with the vaginal swab taken from the victim. The results are awaited.
Following the arrests of Chaudhary and Rawal, their friends and families had staged protests for several days in Kanchanpur, claiming that they were innocent and that police were trying to frame them as in the case of Dilip Singh Bista.
Kanchanpur police had tried to frame Bista as the culprit behind the rape and murder of Nirmala, only to be caught out later.
Besides trying to blame an innocent person, Kanchanpur district police had also destroyed the evidence from the site where Nirmala’s body was discovered on July 27.
In a report prepared by the probe committee led by Additional Inspector General Dhiru Basnyat, it has been stated that 18 police officers who were involved in the initial investigation into the rape and murder of Nirmala have admitted their negligence in tampering with the evidence and their failed bid to frame Bista as the major culprit. The report says 14 officers were involved in gathering fake evidence against Bista and torturing him in custody, and shows the duty officers’ failure in using dogs for probe and gathering evidence.
The report also states that the concerned officers had waited for two days before sending the victim’s vaginal swab sample, and that Constable Chandani Saud had washed Nirmala’s trousers to tamper with the evidence.
Meanwhile, family of Nirmala continued their indefinite sit-in in front of the District Administration Office, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits and action against the police officers who had destroyed evidence during investigation.
Likewise, Citizen Struggle Committee has also been continuing its third phase of protest programme to mount pressure on the government to capture the perpetrators.