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Kalaiya protest rape

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Shyam Gupta

Protests have erupted in Kalaiya of Bara district after the death of a seven-year-old rape victim Puja Sah.

Photo: Shyam Gupta

Photo: Shyam Gupta

Residents of Kalaiya blocked the main intersection of the town on Wednesday by placing the dead body of Puja Sah on the ground, who had died while undergoing treatment at Kanti Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu on 8 March.

Puja had gone missing on 20 February and was found unconscious the next morning. Police say she was raped, beaten and left alone to die.

As Puja’s treatment was not possible at Narayani Sub Regional Hospital, she was airlifted to Kathmandu by a Nepal Army helicopter on 22 February. Puja remained unconscious on the hospital bed for more than two weeks and succumbed to injuries inflicted upon her during the rape.

Puja’s death coincided with International Women’s Day and sparked outrage in social media. Women’s rights activists and civil society members took to the streets even in Kathmandu, demanding stern actions against the guilty.

Puja’s body was taken to Kalaiya on Monday. A day later, the local residents organised a rally carrying her dead body across town. They have described their protest as ‘Beti Bachao Andolan’ (save our daughters campaign).

Former lawmaker Pramod Sah is leading the protests. He says they will not cremate Puja’s body unless authorities promise death sentence to the guilty.

Police have arrested 28-year-old Kanhai Gupta of Kalaiya-4 on the charge of raping Puja. Bara police chief SP Lokendra Bahadur Malla said Gupta raped Puja under the influence of alcohol.

Puja's father Badri Narayan Sah at the protest demanding justice for his daughter

Puja’s father Badri Narayan Sah at the protest demanding justice for his daughter

Puja’s father Badri Narayan Sah says whoever raped her daughter should be hanged to death. “I have no idea what the law says, I just want to see the rapist hanged,” he says. Nepal has no law for death sentences. On Wednesday, a student union submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to amend the existing law to ensure death sentence for people found guilty in heinous crime cases.

In recent months, two other girls have been raped and killed in Bara district. But police have failed to make arrests in either case. The locals say they fear for their daughters’ lives.

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