National and international rights organizations, including Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have expressed their concern over two separate incidents — death of five young Dalits in Soti of Rukum, and a 13-year-old Dalit girl’s rape and subsequent death in Devdaha of Rupandehi the recent days.

The rights organizations have also called for fair and independent investigation into the incidents.

A 13-year-old Dalit girl, who was raped by 25-year-old Birendra Bhar on May 22, was found hanging from a tree under suspicious circumstances. The locals of Devdaha Municipality had forced the rapist to marry the girl on the day she was raped.

On May 24, the girl’s body was found hanging near the Rohini stream in Devdaha. Bhar’s family is reported to have rejected the girl saying that she belonged to a “lower caste”.

The local police had refused to register a complaint from the victim’s mother on May 25. However, the Area Police Office, Butwal, registered a complaint the next day after pressure from the civil society.

Police have arrested Bhar, his mother Akali and aunt Sitali in connection with the incident.

In a separate incident, on May 23, locals from Soti village in Chaurjahari Municipality of Rukum (West), had attacked Nabaraj BK of Jajarkot along with 18 of his friends.

The boys had come to the village to help Nawaraj elope with his girlfriend belonging to the so-called “upper caste”.

The next day, the bodies of Nawaraj and his friend Tikaram Sunar, both of them Dalits, were found on the banks of the Bheri river. The bodies of Ganesh Budha, Lokendra Sunar and Ganesh Budha, who went missing in the river, were recovered from the river in Karnali.

Twelve people, including the 17-year-old girl, her parents and ward chair Dambar Bahadur Malla were arrested on Tuesday for investigation into the incident.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, “It is distressing that caste-based prejudices remain deeply entrenched in our world in the 21st century, and I am filled with sadness for these two young people who held high hopes of building a life together despite the obstacles presented by their accident of birth,” in a press statement issued from Geneva.

“Despite constitutional guarantees, impunity for caste-based discrimination and violence remains high in Nepal,” said Bachelet.

“Nepal has taken big strides to address this scourge, but so much more can and must be done to eradicate this blight on society. This is especially the case when the Covid-19 pandemic has increased their vulnerability.”

Likewise issuing a statement on Friday, NHRC said its Butwal office has started investigation into the incident.

“The commission draws the attention of the Nepal government for an immediate and fair investigation into the incident of rape, murder and caste-based discrimination and bring the culprits to book,” reads the statement.