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Investigation into Bhagarathi rape, murder case drags on

Victim’s kin demand answers and the death penalty for the culprits

2021 Feb 09, 19:23, Kathmandu
This image shows the location of Dogdakedar Rural Municipality in Baitadi district. Image: Google Maps

Six days have passed since the body of a 17-year-old girl was recovered from a forest in Baitadi district. But progress in the investigation process is moving at a rather slow pace as the vaginal swab of the deceased was sent to a forensic lab only on Monday, four days after the body was recovered.

This image shows District Hospital, Baitadi in November 2015. Photo courtesy: Lalit Sigh Rawal
This image shows District Hospital, Baitadi in November 2015. Photo courtesy: Lalit Sigh Rawal

The District Hospital, Baitadi has submitted the postmortem report to police stating that the teenager was murdered after the rape.

Bhagarathi Bhatta of (Katola), Chadepani in Dogdakedar Rural Municipality-7 of Baitadi district was found dead in Lawalek forest on Thursday, February 4. Bhatta, a XII grader at the local Sanatan Dharma Secondary School, Shreekot was found with bruises all over her body and bleeding from her vagina. She was strangulated.

Meanwhile, relatives of the victim have refused to take her body. Bhagarathi's uncle Shivaraj Bhatta said that they would not receive the body until the murderer was brought to book.

Bhatta told NepalNews that he had no information on how seriously the authorities were taking the investigation. He said, “We have submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Sudurpaschim Province, Trilochan Bhatta, demanding stern action against the culprit after a thorough investigation into the case. However, we are losing hope as the authorities are taking too much time.”

He also lamented that the local administration and hospital administration were doing nothing about the body of the deceased and that it had started putrefying in the hospital.

However, spokesperson at Baitadi District Police Office (DPO) Janak Bahadur Dhami, who was at the incident site today said the entire police force from the federal, provincial, investigation bureau and the DPO are jointly carrying on with the onsite investigation and searching for more evidence.

Likewise, Spokesperson at Sudurpashim Province Police office, Mukesh Singh told NepalNews that the swab specimen has already been sent to the Vidhi Bigyan Prayogshala (Central Police Forensic Science Laboratory) based in Samakhushi, Kathmandu. He also said that the police administration was constantly keeping in touch with the lab on how the sample was being processed for DNA tests. He informed that it may take some time to complete the DNA test.

Although no suspects have been detained until now, the inquiry and investigation into the case is underway.

Dogdakedar Rural Municipality on Friday issued a statement expressing regret and sorrow over the brutal rape and murder of Bhatta. Rural Municipality chair, Chakra Bahadur Karki urged the police administration and authorities concerned to investigate the case and take stringent action against the murderer. It also expressed condolences to the bereaved family and announced a public holiday on Friday on account of the death of the teenager.

Ward chair Karki said that the police administration was carrying on a thorough investigation. He remarked that police had completed 80 per cent of the investigation and that there were some remaining issues they were investigating.

Bhagarathi Bhatta left for school at around 8:30 am on Wednesday, February 3 as usual, her uncle, Shivaraj Bhatta said and added that she had left school for home at 1:45 pm.

According to witnesses, she was last noticed at Khoslet Bazaar near her village, Shivaraj said adding, it takes about one and a half an hour from school to home.

It was only the next day at around 3:00 pm that other students from the same school came across the body of Bhatta. The incident site is below the trail the students use to go to school, Shivaraj said.

According to Shivaraj, his niece was a person with a good personality and was the only girl from their village to study in grade XII. Comparing her death with the earlier Nirmala Panta case, he said, “The authorities concerned must provide justice and impose the death penalty on the murderer(s) who carried out such a heinous crime."

Bhagarathi had been living with her mother since her father, Krishnananda Bhatta died from kidney failure about one and a half months ago. Her elder brother, Keshavraj Bhatta has been working in a hotel in India.

  • Meanwhile, Nepal Communist Party (NCP)'s member of dissolved House of Representatives (HoR), Damodar Bhandari elected from Baitadi-1 said that he has urged the government to probe into the incident seriously. He also informed that Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa assured that no stone will be left unturned to do justice.


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