Kohalpur tense after a truck hits a studentProtesters set the vehicle on fire, police open fire in the air and lob tear gas shells.
Tension ran high in Kohalpur of Banke district throughout the day on Sunday after a truck hit a student at around 10 am, leaving her seriously injured.
Twelve-year-old Prakriti Chand, a seventh grader, was hit by the truck (Na 2 Kha 9459) in front of Tribhuvan School where she studies. The accident occurred as her father, Nagendra Bahadur Chand, was about to return home after dropping her off in front of the school.
“The truck hit her while she was crossing the road through a zebra crossing. I could not believe my eyes. The school students encircled the truck and I rushed her to the nearby hospital for treatment,” said Nagendra, who runs an eatery to make a living for his six-member family.
Prakriti, who lost both her legs in the accident, was airlifted to Kathmandu at around 3 pm on Sunday. “My daughter survived the deadly accident but she lost her legs,” the victim’s father told the Post over the telephone.
The students took to the streets after the incident and they were soon joined by locals. The protesters set the truck on fire, claiming that the truck driver reversed the vehicle with the intention to crush the victim to death.
Ram Safal Chaudhary, the school guard who was witness to the accident, said that the truck dragged the victim for a few metres and attempted to crush her to death by reversing the vehicle.
The situation turned ugly after a team of police, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Hem Bahadur Shahi, started beating the protesting students and the locals indiscriminately. "The protest intensified when police started beating up the protesters instead of containing the situation,” said Dev Narayan Karki, a student. "Shahi started beating me up, and when I tried to stop him he asked me who was I to stop the police.”
According to Karki, a scuffle ensued as protesters started pelting stones. Police then responded by firing in the air and lobbing tear gas shells.
Raj Bahadur Chaudhary, Shahi’s bodyguard, said that Shahi was also injured in the incident. “He is receiving treatment at Kohalpur Medical College,” said Chaudhary.
According to Superintendent of Police Bir Bahadur Oli, more than 100 rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas shells were fired to contain the situation.
Police firing further prompted protests and the agitated crowd vandalised the area police unit building along with a dozen vehicles parked outside.
Protesters have accused the police of inciting violence instead of ensuring security in Kohalpur on Sunday. The agitated locals are now demanding Shahi’s transfer.
Krishna Kanta Upadhyaya, assistant chief district officer of Banke, said the administration was mulling over a curfew if the situation does not improve.
At least 19 people, including students and security personnel, were injured in the scuffle. Ten seriously injured victims were taken to Kathmandu for treatment. The driver of the truck has been taken into police custody, according to Oli.