The police have arrested a teenager in the rape and murder of Bhagrathi Bhatta of Baitadi.
The boy is a 11th-grader at the Sanatan Dharma Secondary School in Shreekot of Dogdakedar where the 17-year-old victim studied in the 12th grade. The boy says he is 17 and is from Dogdakedar rural municipality 7 like Bhatta. The police will determine his actual age once the school reopens, according to Chief of Far West Police DIG Uttam Subedi.
The boy will have to be sent to a juvenile correctional center if he is indeed a minor and is found guilty of the crime.
The suspect's house is a 20-minute trek from Bhatta's house and is a distant cousin in relation. They both had to cross Lovelek Community Forest to reach the school.
He has told the police that he has raped and killed her due to animosity but the police have yet to reveal what the animus was.
He had followed Bhatta once she parted ways with her friends at Khochlek Bazar on February 3 and raped her in the community forest around a kilometer away from her home and immediately killed her as she knew him, according to an investigating officer.
Spokesperson of Far West Police SSP Mukesh Singh told Setopati that the boy was a lone wolf in the incident. "Our investigation has already concluded that he was the only person involved in Bhatta's murder. The arrested boy is strong and has conceded that he acted alone," SSP Singh stated. "He seems to have raped her with an intention to murder and he has said he strangulated her."
The police attributing the autopsy report by Baitadi District Hospital have already said strangulation after rape was the cause of death.
He was in the list of suspects and was under police surveillance right from the beginning. He had been regularly going to school after the incident and would even participate in the rallies organized to demand justice for Bhatta. "But he would be scared while seeing police. He has been arrested from his house Tuesday," the investigating officer said.
The officer added that the boy felt that he wound not be suspected if he were to go to school regularly after the incident and participate in the rallies demanding justice for her.
Bhatta had gone missing while returning home from Sanatan Dharma Secondary School in February 3 afternoon. The 12th grader had to cross Lovelek Community Forest to return home. Her body was found by students in a gorge in the middle of the forest at around 4 pm the next day with her shirt torn off and her pants pulled down below the knee, and teeth marks all over the body.