This week, in a crime that shocked the nation, young engineering student was killed and his body crushed with a tipper truck for opposing a sand-mining contractor in Dhanusha.
Just 24 years old, Om Prakash (‘Dilip’) Mahato had come home from college in Bhopal in India. He was incensed about how the Churiyamai Crusher Industry was illegally extracting sand and boulders from the Aurahi River under cover of darkness. The contractor Bipin Mahato had threatened the boy’s father three days previously, saying he would kill him for trying to ruin his business.
Before dawn on a fog-bound morning last Friday, Dilip heard earth-moving vehicles near the farm and went to inspect. He was attacked with an iron rod, and killed by contractor Bipin Mahato. To make it look like an accident, his body was then run over by tipper driver Munindra Mahato and Jitendra Mahato.
Police have reportedly extracted confessions from all four of the accused, and taken them into custody. The contractor has owned up to impaling Dilip with the sharp end of an iron rod, and the tipper driver has confessed to running over the body.
The hopes of Dilip’s farming family was on this hard-working and idealistic young man who was about to graduate. He leaves behind six sisters, ailing parents and a grandfather.
As has often reported in this paper and in investigative reports in other Nepali language media, the appropriately named ‘Crusher’ industry is run by a mafia enjoying political protection from local, district and provincial administrations. Most have strong ties to political parties, with some being wholly or partly owned by those holding office.
While activists who have exposed illegal sand mining have often been threatened and silenced in the past, this is the first time that someone opposed to unlawful extraction from rivers has been executed by the quarry mafia.
It speaks volumes about the state of impunity in Nepal today that the perpetrators were convinced they could get away with it. Having politicians, the security apparatus and the courts in their pockets, they think they can literally get away with murder. The crime exposes the criminalisation of politics and the politicisation of crime in federal Nepal, where instead of devolving political power, it is wrongdoing that has been decentralised in the past two years..
What an irony that the contractor had named his ‘crusher’ company after Churiyamai, the goddes