The ‘murder’ of a 24-year-old activist in Dhanusha on Friday by ‘crusher mafia’ spells disaster for our federal republic. From Kathmandu to local levels, politicians and mafia have been looting state resources with impunity. The murder of Om Prakash (Dilip Kumar) Mahato is a manifestation of larger issues of deep-seated corruption within our system. Dilip was spearheading a campaign against illegal mining of sand and aggregate in and around a local river in his hometown. Life of a promising engineer is cut short, and with it, dreams of his loved ones shattered. That a young man could be murdered for fighting for a just cause tells a lot about the kind of state we envision for our future generations.
Dilip had spearheaded a campaign against illegal mining of sands and aggregates from a local river in his village. As an educated youth in the village, Dilip knew severe consequences that villagers may have to face in the future if the illegal mining continued further. But this campaign drew wraths of local crusher mafias as well as politicians, who were reaping huge benefits from such mining, and they orchestrated a murder to finish the dissenting voice without any hesitation. It was only two days before the gruesome murder, the owner of Churiyamai Baluwa Prasodhan Udhyog, Bipin Mahato, had warned Dilip’s father to ask his son to stop protesting or else he would “run tipper over his body”. All circumstantial evidences suggest that the death of Dilip in the wee hour of Friday was not caused in an accident as claimed, but he was murdered in a planned way.
Two persons who accompanied Dilip in the morning walk should also be put under investigation to see if they were acting as accomplices of the crusher mafias as their roles seem questionable. We demand swift investigation and maximum punishment against the crusher owner Bipin and the truck driver Munindra Mahato. Police have already arrested Bipin and Munindra in connection with the incident. We encourage police to make a thorough investigation into their involvement in the killing and their nexus with local politicians. This incident provides an opportunity for the Nepal Police to regain some of its dented image from the mishandling of investigation it made into the rape and murder case of Nirmala Panta in Mahendranagar.
Mayor of Mithila Municipality Hari Narayan Mahato has expressed ignorance about illegal extraction of aggregates taking place in Aurahi River, which is surrounded by farmland, for years. We believe it is impossible for this mining taking place in his village for years without the mayor’s knowledge. His connection with this mining must also be investigated, and punished accordingly, if found guilty. The collusion of politicians and crusher mafia has been widely reported in Nepali media. Local, provincial and federal governments must rein in illegal mining. Unchecked illegal mining of aggregates from Chure Range has posed serious threats to local environment and ecosystem. Rivers are drying up along the Range and the toll of flash floods has been severe.
Former President Ram Baran Yadav has been vocal about the urgency to save Chure from crusher mafias. Although a separate Rashtrapati Chure Conservation Program was introduced a few years ago to conserve Chure, it has like any other similar programs in the past become not as effective. From handing over Nepal Trust properties to Yeti Groups at throwaway prices to collusion of politicians and mafias in looting natural resources, the trend is clear: Politicians want to make money at any cost. Being elected does not mean they have a free license to enrich oneself. This must stop once and for all.