Youth crushed to death by tipper for protesting illegal extraction of riverbed materials in DhanusaTwenty-four-year-old Dilip Kumar Mahato was struck and dragged by the tipper driver, say police.
Early morning on Friday, when 24-year-old Dilip Kumar Mahato heard the raucous clamour of loaders and tippers coming from the Aurahi River behind his house, he immediately went to investigate.
Dilip knew that the illegal extraction of construction material from the riverbed had been ongoing for the past two years. He had been protesting ever since it started, and he had repeatedly gotten into disputes with people from the crusher industry. He had received death threats and when he showed no signs of backing down, they had tried to bribe him.
For locals of Sripur in Dhanusha’s Mithila Municipality, Dilip’s continued protests and his fight against the crusher industry was nothing new.
But on Friday, things took a tragic turn. As Dilip protested yet again before a tipper that was illegally harvesting the riverbed, the truck ran him over, dragging him under its carriage. Dilip died.
Inspector Ram Kumar Yadav of the Dhalkebar Area Police Office confirmed that Dilip was killed while protesting the illegal extraction of riverbed materials.
“He was forcefully dragged and crushed by the tipper,” Yadav told the Post.
The Dhalkebar Area Police Office has taken the driver, along with the tipper with registration number Na 7 Kha 6413, into custody. Dilip’s body has been sent to the Janakpur-based Provincial Hospital for a post-mortem, according to Yadav.
“There were frequent altercations between the locals and the owners of the crusher industry,” said Yadav. “From our preliminary investigation, we have inferred that Dilip was killed following one such altercation.”
Dilip had returned home only two weeks ago from Bhopal in India, where he was pursuing a bachelors engineering degree. Dilip was in the last semester of his course and about to graduate.
From the very beginning, Dilip had argued that harvesting the river of its sand, stones and boulders would place his village at risk of flooding. Dilip’s relatives said he was repeatedly threatened but he took it lightly.
“The contractors would threaten him and often try to bribe him,” said Birendra Kumar Mahato, his older brother. “But succumbing to threats and bribes was unlike him. He continued to speak out about illegal mining.”
Last year, Dilip had even informed local journalists about the mining and after the news broke, the mining stopped for a few days, Birendra said. But it restarted.
“When he returned home two weeks ago, he wanted to stop the illegal mining permanently and once again got into fights with the crusher owners,” said Birendra. “Even our father was threatened by one of the owners, Bipin Mahato, on Wednesday.”
According to Inspector Yadav, Bipin Mahato is currently on the run, along with a few others associated with the industry.
According to Sanjay Kumar Mahato, a neighbour, Dilip was a friendly person and popular among villagers.
“He was interested in politics so he was outspoken and wanted to solve problems in the village,” said Sanjay.
Following the incident, locals obstructed the East-West Highway on Friday afternoon protesting Dilip’s murder.
The story has been updated.