On November 14, 2020, the Pokhariya Police Station in Parsa of southern Nepal got a call about a fire in Ramnagari in Bahudarmai municipality. When the police got there to douse the fire, they found that the house was gutted and 15-year-old Mana Kumari Sah Teli had died in it.
Sah’s family had told the police Mana Kumari had died as she could not get out of the house on time. However, upon close inspection, the police found evidence that pointed towards an arson and immolation.
The Pokhariya Police Station chief, Inspector Deepak Thapa, says the police started its investigation after they found proofs that it might have in fact been a murder.
“When they called us, no one told us that there was someone in the house. Had we known, we could have gone inside and rescued the teenager rather than concentrate on controlling the fire,” says Thapa. “As we got in, we saw Mana Kumari’s body. Upon close inspection, we saw that the fire started from the bed. That to us was very fishy.”
What made the police even more suspicious was Mana Kumari’s mother, Lalmati Devi, who usually slept with the 15-year-old, was alive and well. Add that and the fact that no one even tried to save the teenager made the police sure that this was not an accident but was a murder.
Police carried on its investigation since that day. Things got interesting when Lalmati Devi’s daughter-in-law, Manisha Devi, told the police that her mother-in-law had killed Mana Kumari by setting her on fire.
The police then arrested Lalmati Devi and started questioning her. Upon questioning, Lalmati Devi told the police that she killed her daughter because Mana Kumari had an affair with a guy from a lower caste. She said she did so after consulting with her husband Manbodh.
A murder case has been filed against Lalmati at Parsa District Court.
Manbodh, however, is on the run.