As netizens flooded social media demanding justice for 13-year-old Nirmala Pant, who was raped and subsequently murdered in July 2018, with the hashtag #JusticeForNirmala and #JusticeForNirmalaPanta, the issue has drawn the attention of Nepal Police.

In the last couple of days, social media users are persistently commenting #JusticeForNirmala in the social media posts of high level government officials, law enforcement agencies, international organizations, and top politicians.

The comments with the hashtag had surpassed 600,000 in the profile picture of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on his Facebook page until Tuesday afternoon. Netizens plan to surpass one million comments in Oli’s profile picture alone.

Netizens have also commented #JusticeForNirmalaPanta on the pictures posted by the Facebook page of Nepal Police, co-chairman of Nepal Communist Party Pushpa Kamal Dahal, UN Women, United Nations Human Rights, and president of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba, among others.

Netizens have shared that the movement was to remind authorities concerned about the delay in providing justice to Nirmala even though more than two years have passed since the incident. Similarly, the comments on the pages of international rights organisations are said to be a part of making the global community aware of the delay in justice for the 13-year-old victim.

Around a dozen different investigation committees have been formed by Nepal Police and the government to probe into the incident, but authorities have been unable to arrest the perpetrator/s.

“Investigation is ongoing by conducting DNA tests, through phone records, by searching and detaining individuals suspected of the crime, and interrogating many individuals. The investigation is still underway as we are focusing on different aspects of the incident,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kuber Kadayat, central police spokesperson.

The recent report by a team formed by Nepal Police under the leadership of Deputy Inspector General of Police Suraj KC to probe and analyse the former reports and investigations into the case and suggest a way forward had recommended the authority to focus on circumstantial evidence over DNA.

Though DNA is considered major evidence, a committee by National Human Rights Commission, including forensic experts, had earlier found serious lapses in collection of the DNA sample from the victim and lack of scientific methods applied during the DNA test.

As the investigation is claimed to be ongoing, senior officers in Nepal Police say that they are in search of concrete evidence.

“As the DNA does not seem a way forward in the case, we need concrete evidence against the accused to prove the crime. A lack of evidence can help the criminal walk scot free,” said Kadayat.

As per Kadayat, some cases take time in finding something concrete or essential related to the case.
“We are serious about the case. The perpetrators will be arrested sooner or later with a concrete evidence to back their involvement,” Kadayat added.