CHITWAN, May 29: The Nepal Army (NA) has formed a court of inquiry to investigate into the allegation of a rape attempt by one of its soldiers in Chitwan.
Chitra Bahadur Pradhan, an NA Jamdar (Warrant Officer-Second Class), has been charged with sexually assaulting and thrashing a village woman while cutting grass for cattle inside Chitwan National Park (CNP) on May 12.
"The probe is on," said NA captain Hari Bahadur Khatri. "The NA will take departmental action against Pradhan if found guilty." According to captain Khatri, the NA will bear all treatment expenses of the victim.
Phulmati Mahato, a 42-year-old local woman, was sexually assaulted allegedly by Pradhan. Phulmati says she was beaten up with a bamboo baton by Pradhan when she refused to accept his sexual advances. "He tried to drag me into a nearby bush and when I resisted, he threw away my sari," Phulmati said. "He beat me up with a baton."
Phulmati, who is now receiving treatment at Bharatpur Hospital, says she can neither sleep nor walk properly as she has bruises all over her body. "Doctors say my mother has suffered internal injuries," Phulmati´s daughter Manju said. "She will have to spend many more months in the hospital."
Phulmati´s husband Ram Dulari Mahato, 60, is paralyzed and can´t work. Phulmati was the sole breadwinner for her family of four. She used to do odd jobs to earn two squares of meal every day. "My mother looked after us," says Manju. "I am not sure if I and my sister will now ever go to school."
Phulmati was cutting grass along with three other village girls inside the park. When the three girls tried to intervene, Pradhan allegedly ordered his juniors to keep them at bay. Phulmati says Pradhan ran away only after other locals reached there and began shouting.