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One killed, several  hurt as police open fire at protesters in Sarlahi

- AJIT TIWARI, OM PRAKASH THAKUR, JANAKPUR

Jul 1, 2019-

One person died and a dozen others sustained injuries when police opened fire at the people gathered on the East-West Highway in Sarlahi on Sunday to protest the death of a young boy after falling into a sand pit in Banke River.

Kebal Mahato, 27, of Ishwarpur Municipality, died of gunshot injuries while he was protesting the death of 12-year-old Amit Roy, who died after plunging into a 30-feet sand pit on Saturday. 

The residents of Ishwarpur claimed that the sand mine was being operated illegally with the protection of local elected representatives and police administration. 

On Sunday afternoon, they took to the street carrying Roy’s body and obstructed the East-West Highway. They were demanding the authorities concerned to stop illegal excavation of sand and pebbles from the Banke river, fill the sand pits, ban illegal crusher plants and provide adequate compensation to Roy’s family.

According to Province 2 police chief DIG Pradhyumna Karki, the situation descended into violence as the protesters started hurling stones at security personnel.   

“Police requested time and again to clear the highway, but these requests were replied with stones and bricks. The situation soon got out of control, and the security personnel were compelled to open fire,” he said. 

Though the government standards state that a pit dug for excavating sand and pebbles should not be over three feet deep, the one at the Banke river is over 30 feet deep, claimed the protesters.  

Meanwhile, the Province 2 government has formed a three-member committee to investigate the shooting incident.  It has also decided to provide compensation to the families of Roy and Mahato.

Minister of Internal Affairs and Law Gyanendra Kumar Yadav criticised the incident by terming it as “the continuation of police apathy”.

“The police briefed the provincial government only after the incident, which is unfortunate,” Yadav said. “The protesters could have been dispersed without the use of force or violence. There was no need to open fire.” 

Pramod Sah, a member of Province 2 assembly, also condemned the police shooting on a civilian.  

“The protest was a result of police’s delayed response in extracting Roy’s body from the pit. The police could have easily cleared the highway without opening fire. The move was irresponsible,” he said. 

Published: 01-07-2019 08:33

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