Four people killed in clash with police in RupandehiThe clash ensued when police deployed to demolish illegal huts erected on government land were attacked by squatters.
Ghanashyam Gautam, Sanju Paudel & Amrita Anmol
Four people died in a violent clash between police and land squatters at the Motipur Industrial Area in Rupandehi district on Sunday. At least a dozen others were injured.
According to Sushil Gurung, administration chief at Universal College of Medical Sciences, Bhairahawa four of the 13 injured people brought to the hospital have died while a fifth one is in a critical condition.
“Three people were declared dead on arrival while the fourth person died while undergoing treatment,” said Gurung.
Five police personnel are also receiving treatment at the health facility.
Kamal Pandey, the assistant chief district officer of Rupandehi, also confirmed the death of four protesters.
The District Police Office, however, was yet to verify the deaths until late evening.
“I am still in the field. I heard that some injured protesters died in the hospital. But we cannot ascertain the deaths without verifying and identifying the deceased,” said Superintendent of Police Manoj KC, the chief at the District Police Office. According to him, at least 15 protesters and 25 security personnel were injured in the clash.
The injured are receiving treatment at various hospitals in Butwal and Bhairahawa.
The District Administration Office (DAO) in Rupandehi clamped a curfew in Motipur Industrial Corridor Area, which lies at Ward No 17 and 18 of Butwal Sub-metropolitan City, for an indefinite period to avert any untoward incidents. “The curfew, enforced at 4 pm, will remain effective until another notice,” reads the notice issued by the district administration.
According to the DAO, the curfew order was enforced from Tinau River in the east, agriculture lands in Hariharpur in the west, Shivanagar Ranigunj settlement in the north and to the industrial corridor in Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City-18 in the south.
The government had announced plans to establish an industrial area in Motipur in the fiscal year 2015/16. The following year, a land ownership document for 813 bighas of land [545 hectares approximately] was issued for the construction of the Motipur Industrial Area.
But over the past few months, there has been a huge influx of people from outside the district and some of them have started to build their huts on around 200 bighas of land belonging to the proposed industrial area in Ward No 17 and 18 of Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City, according to locals.
“There were around 5,000 unfamiliar people in the industrial area when the clash erupted on Sunday,” said Ruk Bahadur Chhetri, a local who witnessed the clash. “Many people from Dang, Rolpa, Rukum, Myagdi and Dhading, among others, have been coming to the area. Buses full of people have come to the Motipur area from Myagdi and Narayangadh.”
Santaram Rana, the ward chairman of Butwal-17, also claimed that many people from various districts of Lumbini, Gandaki, Karnali and Bagmati provinces have been attempting to encroach land in the industrial area. “There are less than two percent local people among the encroachers. All the recent squatters are from outside Rupandehi,” he said.
The DAO had been deploying security personnel to the industrial area to clear out the alleged encroachers for the past few days. On Sunday morning, the DAO had deployed security personnel in large numbers.
DSP Satya Narayan Thapa, spokesperson at the District Police Office, informed that the police had opened fire after a clash ensued between the security personnel and alleged land encroachers.
“Police were compelled to open fire after the protesters attacked them. The protesters were armed with stones and canes,” said Rishiram Tiwari, chief district officer of Rupandehi. “Police have increased their surveillance and are attempting to evict the encroachers,” he said.