Excavator operator and three others detained for investigation in BaitadiEight villagers have been injured, one seriously, when an excavator struck villagers protesting road construction.
The operator of an excavator that was caught on video threatening villagers in Baitadi district has been taken into custody. Three other people were also detained for investigation, said police.
On Monday, a grim footage showed an excavator charging at villagers who were protesting against the construction of Sunnakhan-Chilaune-Parsa road at Gwalek in Dasharathchand Municipality. Gauri Joshi, a local woman, was seriously injured when she was dragged by the excavator. Seven others were injured when two groups of the villagers—one in favour to construct a road through this area and the other to obstruct it—clashed.
In the video, the excavator can be seen indiscriminately digging as the protesters surround and pelt stones at it. The excavator swings its blade haphazardly, threatening the protesters. Then, in one instant, the excavator’s blade can be seen hitting a woman, toppling her to the ground.
After the incident, the injured were taken to the district hospital. According to Basanta Raj Joshi, Gauri was brought to the hospital in an unconscious state. The hospital immediately referred her to Dhangadhi for further treatment. Seven other injured returned homes after treatment at the district hospital.
“She (Gauri) is unable to speak. We are taking her to Kohalpur in Banke,” said Jagadish, Gauri’s husband who took her to Dhangadhi. He demanded strong against the excavator operator. He also complained that the family did not have money for her treatment.
अाँखाले पनि विश्वास नगर्ने क्रुरताको दृश्य, वाटो निर्माणका क्रममा बैतडीमा मानिसलाई जब डोजरले पेलियो pic.twitter.com/XMBgqnvxTF— Avenues Khabar (@Avenues_TV) October 21, 2019
Deputy Superintendent of Police Dilli Narayan Pandey, the district police chief, said the incident happened following a dispute between two groups over opening a motorable track. He said the local ward office had made preparations to dig the road for construction. According to him, the dispute had started a couple of months back. “Investigation is underway after taking the operator and three others into custody. We initiated an inquiry on both sides. The operator who hit the woman will be punished in accordance with the law,” he added.
Dasharathchand Municipality announced free treatment to the injured and assured to resolve the dispute by holding talks with the disputants. “We had made efforts to solve the dispute in the past too but we were surprised at what happened here yesterday,” said Mayor Narendra Singh Thapa.
“We had been coordinating with the excavator owner to not use the machine for four days so that we could share the remaining Guthi land among ourselves for building a house and for worshipping. But those in favour of opening the road didn’t accept the plan,” one local resident told Avenues TV.
After the footage was published on Monday night, hundreds of people have expressed outrage on social media platforms, many calling it “excavator terror.”
“It’s not unusual to see landowners protest when an excavator is used on their land, but perhaps it is criminal to use excavator against people instead of removing them from the way,” wrote Shiva Dahal.
Many users have called for authorities to punish the excavator operator. “People need development, not a massacre,” Gopal Yogi wrote on Twitter. “The excavator operator must be punished.”
The story has been updated.