The Kanchanpur District Court has acquitted eight police officers, including then chief of Kanchapur District Police SP Dilliraj Bista, accused of destroying evidence related to the rape and subsequent murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta.

Panta’s dead body was found in a sugarcane field on July 27, 2018 in Bhimdutta Municipality-2 of Kanchanpur district, a day after she went missing.

She was a grade nine student at the local Saraswati Secondary School. On the morning of July 26, Pant had gone to her friend Roshani Bam’s house in order to complete her homework. But she never came back.

A single bench of Judge Gopal Prasad Bastola acquitted the police officers accused of destroying the evidence.

Besides Bista, those acquitted are DSP Angur GC and DSP Gyan Bahadur Seti, Inspectors Ekindra Khadka and Jagadish Bhatta, Sub-Inspectors Hari Singh Dhami and Ram Singh Dhami, and Head Constable Chandani Saud.

Nirmala’s mother, Durga Devi Panta, had filed the case against the police personnel at the Kanchanpur District Court following which the eight officers were later suspended from their posts.

SP Bista was sacked by the Ministry of Home Affairs, while seven other police officials including Gyan Bahadur Seti, Ekindra Khadka, Jagdish Bhatta, Hari Singh Dhami, Ram Singh Dhami and Chadani Saud were suspended.

Everyone, except Bista, can now join back their office if they wish to.

Investigation into the rape and murder case, however, has remained controversially stagnant for the past year.