Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Almost a year and nine months after a nine-year-old girl was murdered in Dechencholing, the family members are still waiting for justice.

The victim’s mother, Gita Maya Adhikari, has been suffering from mental breakdowns and suicidal thoughts. She has been in and out of the hospital.

She cries at the mention of her late daughter Dina Koirila.

After the unfortunate incident, the family moved to Tsirang, but the father had to attend school with the victim’s younger brother for about two months, as the little boy was too scared to go to school.

“He is scared he will be murdered like his elder sister,” the father, Yaginidhi Koirala, said.

The father, aged 36, said he has suffered a lot in life.

Without ancestral land in his village in Salami, Tsirang, he is sharecropping for a household in Tshokona in Tsholingkhar. The family grows paddy crops and vegetables, and earns about Nu 40,000 annually.

“We thought it would be better back in the village but it is challenging,” he said.

The four members of the family live in a one-roomed mud house with an attached kitchen. It is dingy and cramped.

Yaginidhi Koirala worked as a city bus driver in Thimphu for four years before he was arrested for not being able to honour an agreement to pay off a debt under his father’s name. It was during his nine months of imprisonment that the tragedy happened.

He has looked for jobs in Tsirang but without any success. “If I had a consistent income, it would help the family.”

He said the family’s economic condition worsened during the lockdowns.

Yaginidhi Koirala said he regrets not being able to conduct a seven-day death ritual (puran) for his late daughter. “The feeling is unsettling and I feel if we could perform rituals for her, it would ease her pain. My wife might not see our daughter in dreams as often.”

The ritual, he estimates, would cost about Nu 100,000.

Recalling the memories, Yaginidhi Koirala said that his daughter was a hardworking and talented girl. She shouldered responsibilities like an adult and she feared little. “This strength was a curse.”

He said that when his wife was admitted to the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, his late 9-year-old daughter tended to her mother, travelling back and forth between Dechencholing and hospital, despite having to look after her younger brother at home. “She was an honest girl, too. She managed our weekend shopping and wouldn’t even misuse Nu 10. She was responsible.”

Yaginidhi Koirala said that he remembers his late daughter’s promise. “She said she would look after us when we are old, even if her brothers abandon us.”

He said that only justice will free the family from pain and guilt. “I am not bitter with the killer. I don’t hate him or her but I don’t want this tragedy to befall on anyone.”

Without any breakthrough or update on the case, the family is frustrated, but they hope police will be able to solve the case soon.

Edited by Tashi Dema