NEPAL: Risk of improper investigation into the murder of an 8-year-old Dalit girl, allegedly sacrificed for good omens


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-006-2010
ISSUES: Caste-based discrimination, Child rights, Judicial system, Police negligence, Police violence, Sexual violence,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that an 8-year-old Dalit girl has been assassinated, in what could be a sacrifice for good omen on December 4, 2009 in Maryadpur, Rupandehi District, Nepal. The AHRC is concerned that the case may not receive appropriate attention from the local police who have a long record of not investigating properly caste-based crimes in Nepal. Although Nepal’s interim constitution formally outlaws caste-based discrimination, those crimes are still frequent in rural Nepal and strong actions need to be taken in this case to show a strong political will to fight against caste based discrimination.


According to the information the AHRC has received from the Jagaran Media Center, a Nepal-based NGO which have been fighting against caste-based discrimination for the last decade, Manisha Harijan, an 8-year-old Dalit girl, has been found dead on the morning of 4 December 2009, with her throat silted. Upon inquiry with the neighbors and the girl’s family, the JMC was informed that the victim had not come home the evening before and that her father, Raju Harijan, along with two other villagers had been looking for her and faced an hostile attitude from workers building a brick kiln. It is only the next morning that her father discovered her body.

The circumstances of the crime have led the villagers and the police officers to suspect that a local non-Dalit businessman, Birendra Jayasawal, has killed the girl as human sacrifice in his brick kiln to bring good omen. Additionally, the chimney of the kiln was found sprinkled with water and the bricks covered with blood.  The villagers and Raju Harijan consider these as evidences of human sacrifice. The day before the incident, Jayasawal had allegedly assured the father that Manisha would be home by the morning.

The police arrested Jayasawal and four other suspects and the villagers demonstrated in front of the Area Police Office-Manjhgawa demanding punishment of the perpetrators. The police then shifted the suspects to the District Police Office (DPO) in Bhairhawa. Nevertheless, the victim’s family and the villagers assert having encountered resistance from the police who first refused to file the case and showed negligence in investigating the case.

The JMC regional office, Radio Jagaran 93.6MHz and different local organisations report to have conducted a field visit and submitted a memorandum to the Chief District Officer, Nagendra Jha, a higher authority, urging him to order proper investigations, which the CDO promised. After intense pressures on the DPO from local human rights organisations, a case was eventually filed on 9 December 2009.


Despite this, the AHRC and the JMC fears that this case may not receive proper attention from the police. The fact that the victim belongs to the Harijan sub-caste which is one of the poorest groups among the Dalits poses a challenge for the family to have adequate access to the judicial system.

Indeed, although caste-based crimes are frequent in Nepal, the authorities have often proven careless in addressing them, refusing to register cases, releasing culprits without a trial or even pressuring the victims into withdrawing their complaints. The AHRC has already reported several of those cases: recently the police has been pressuring a Dalit woman who had been accused of witchcraft and forced to eat human excreta into withdrawing her case (UAC-153-2009) and has released the suspect of the rape and murder of an 11-year-old Dalit girl although there were strong evidences against him (UAC-150-2009).  That is why there is a strong probability that such an attitude might be an obstacle to the victim’s family’s search for justice in this case.

The above cases reveal several flaws in the Nepalese police system as a whole, which does not function properly anymore. In some cases it is only after the case receiving publicity and the authorities put under pressure, the police registered cases against the suspects, or the case investigated. Such circumstances make it even more difficult for the Dalits, one of the most isolated citizens of Nepal, to access judiciary institutions. What can be defined as a systematic refusal to receive and support the complaints of the most vulnerable citizens of Nepal will only result in encouraging anti-Dalit sentiments, discrimination and crimes toward them.

Although the caste system has been officially abolished in Nepal in 1963, it still de facto condemns the Dalits to poverty, illiteracy and caste-based discrimination. In rural areas, the rest of the society still considers that the value of a Dalit’s life as negligible. While the interim Constitution of Nepal formally prohibits discrimination against Dalits and states that the state should take comprehensive measures to address this issue, a law still has to be designed to specifically protect religious minorities and Dalits from being discriminated against and attacked.

In investigating this case properly, the Nepalese police has a chance to show that it can treat all citizens’ complaints equally, which would be an important step forward for the accountability of the police system, and a strong signal condemning anti-Dalit discriminations.


Please write letters to the authorities listed below, urging them to immediately make sure that the murder of Manisha Harijan will be properly investigated. Please urge for the protection of the victim’s family. Please also join us in calling for the drafting of a law to protect religious minorities or Dalits from discrimination in Nepal.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and on violence against women, its causes and consequences calling for intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________,

NEPAL: The murder of an 8-year-old Dalit Girl, allegedly sacrificed for good omens must be properly investigated

Name of victim:
Manisha Harijan, 8 years old, permanent resident of Maryadpur Village Development Committee (VDC) – Rupandehi district, Nepal

Name of alleged perpetrator: 
Birendra Jayasawal, Maryadpur Village Development Committee (VDC) – Rupandehi district, Nepal

Date of incident: 4 December 2009 (2066/7/21 according to the Nepalese calendar) 
Place of incident: Maryadpur VDC, Rupandehi District.

I am writing to voice my concern regarding the murder of an 8-year-old Dalit girl in Maryadpur, Rupandehi District. According to the information I have received, Manisha Harijan’s father, Raju Harijan discovered her dead body on the morning of 4 December 2009, with her throat silted, near a brick kiln. The circumstances of the crime have lead the villagers and the police officers to suspect that this is a case of human sacrifice, committed in order to bring good omen to the owner of the brick kiln, a local non-Dalit businessman, Birendra Jayasawal.

The police have arrested Birendra Jayasawal, along with four other suspects and transferred them to the District Police Office of Bhairhawa.

The villagers report that the police officers first refused to file a First Information Report (FIR) and showed negligence in investigating the case. They eventually did so after intense pressures from local human rights NGOs, including the Jagaran Media Center. On 9 December 2009, a FIR was eventually filed. The Chief District Officer, Nagendra Jha, also promised the JMC that he will make sure this case will be properly investigated.

I am deeply concerned that, despite this, this case may not receive proper attention from the police, which has a long record of neglecting the investigation of caste-based crimes in Nepal. I understand that the victim’s family has a right to be given justice for this crime and to see this case carefully examined by the police.

This implies that the inquiry must be conducted by an independent and impartial body, committed to take, without unnecessary delays, all the steps essential to an effective investigation process: prompt questioning of the witnesses; DNA examination of the blood samples found in the brick kiln; divulgation of the investigation results to the family, which includes communication of the DNA analysis and post-mortem examination outcomes.

If the enquiry concludes that this has been a sacrificial murder, the perpetrators must be prosecuted, according to the provisions of the Nepalese Penal Law. I am also calling for the protection of the victim’s family since, as Dalits, they are vulnerable to pressures, threats and intimidation from the suspects.

I also take this opportunity to draw your attention on the frequent malfunctioning of the Nepalese investigative and legal system, which requires the citizens to have sufficient social influence or material resources to convince the police officers to register and investigate their cases, which de facto excludes the most vulnerable citizens from accessing it. The police system is also suffering from a lack of proper equipment and infrastructures which prevent it from carrying effective inquiries and the government should take measures to make sure it has adequate resources.

I consider that this case is a chance for the police and judiciary system, despite their immediate requirement for adequate resources, to show that they can still function and ensure the protection of every Nepali citizen, regardless of their religion, sex, age or caste. Strong and firm legal actions would act as a deterrent to prevent such ignominious anti-Dalit crimes to happen again.

I also wish to point out that although Nepal is part of different international conventions which strongly condemn caste-based discrimination and that its interim Constitution formally asserts that it is the State’s responsibility to ensure the equality of all the citizens, there is currently no law specifically designed to address religious or caste-based discrimination. I therefore urge for the drafting of such a law and for a strong political will to eradicate the anti-Dalit mindset, still present in the rural areas of the country.

Yours sincerely,



1. Mr. Ramesh Chand Thakuri 
Inspector General of Police 
Police Head Quarters, Naxal 
Fax: +977 1 4415593 
Tel: +977 1 4412432 (Secretary to IGP) 

2. Dr. Bharat Bahadur Karki 
Attorney General 
Office of Attorney General 
Ramshahpath, Kathmandu 
Fax: +977 1 4262582 
Tel: +977 1 4262506 

3. Mr. Sarva Dev Prasad Ojha 
Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare 
Singha Durbar, Kathmandu 
Fax: +977 1 4241516 
Tel: +977 1 4241728/4241551 

4. Ms. Nainkala Thapa 
National Women’s Commission 
Bhadrakali Plaza, Kathmandu 
Fax: +977 1 4256783 
Tel: +977 1 4249751/4257628

5. Mr. Kedar Nath Upadhaya 
National Human Rights Commission 
Pulchowk, Lalitpur 
Fax: +977 1 55 47973 
Tel: +977 1 5010015 
E-mail: or

6. Mr. Sarbendra Khanal 
Superintendent of Police 
Police HR Cell 
Nepal Police, Kathmandu 
Fax: +977 1 4415593 
Tel: +977 1 4411618 

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-006-2010
Countries : Nepal,
Issues : Caste-based discrimination, Child rights, Judicial system, Police negligence, Police violence, Sexual violence,