On January 10th, 2020, Dilip Kumar Mahato (Om Prakash Mahat) was killed with an iron rod, and his body was crushed by a tipper to give the appearance of an accident. Dilip had gone to protest an illegal mining operation from the river near his house in Dhanusha. Dilip had been protesting against this operation since it started 2 years ago.
Dilip had received death threats, as well as bribe offers, to stop his protests. On the morning of the incident, Dilip was awakened by the noise of the tipper, and went to protest in the site where extraction was taking place. It was then that the tipper crushed him.
Dilip had been able to organize some youths against the operation. Due to this, the crusher company did not carry out the extraction in daylight. Dilip used to visit the site during nighttime with other locals.
About a year back, Dilip had shared information about the operation to local journalists, which led to a temporary halt on the operation for a few days. Dilip wanted to put a permanent halt on the operation.
The tipper driver (Munindra Mahato) was arrested on the same day. One of the owners, Bipin Mahato (who was also the one who killed Dilip with the iron rod), was arrested the next day. Bipin had reportedly threatened Dilip’s father with Dilip’s life a few days prior to the incident, along with Janak Mahato and Lochan Mahato. The investigation preliminary reports stated that Dilip was killed while protesting the illegal extraction of riverbed materials.
Detailed Case Information
Dilip had been informed the previous night that extraction was about to take place the next day. He went to the site with his friend Roshan Yadav. He had informed the ward chairman about his plans. At the site, Dilip was manhandled, stabbed on his liver with an iron rod, and run over by a tipper (Na 7 Kha 6413). The incident happened around 4 AM. Dilip’s family has accused Bipin Mahato (चुरियामाई बालुवा प्रशोधन केन्द्र) along with the local administration, head of ward for their involvement in the murder.
Dilip’s sister (Lakshmi Kumari Mahato) had raised suspicion that someone took Dilip to the site on his bike. According to Lakshmi, Dilip usually took his bike anywhere he needed to go, but on the day of the incident he had left his bike at his home.
The police had moved Dilip’s body without preparing a crime scene report. DIlip’s body had been transferred to the nearby Model Hospital for treatment. The police also barred DIlip’s family from accompanying them to the hospital with Dilip. Dilip’s family has also demanded an investigation against Inspector Ram Kumar Yadav for this, suspecting his involvement with the crusher industry to hide the evidence and trying to register the incident as an accident. Inspector Yadav has claimed that the accusations are false and that his situation has stopped the situation from becoming worse. Given Inspector Yadav’s close relations with a prominent political leader, there have been concerns that the issue of Yadav’s involvement may also become politicized.
The locals protested the carelessness of the police. They obstructed the Mahendra highway, burnt tires, and threw stones at the police. The police (led by SP Ramesh Kumar Basnet) used tear gas to clear the obstruction.
A team from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had also been sent to the crime spot. According to NHRC, the murder is a violation of right to life, right to a clean environment, and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
On 11th January, 2020, the postmortem of the body was conducted in Janakpur Regional Hospital after approval from the deceased’s family. Earlier the postmortem had been obstructed by the family due to mistrust from the police. They agreed for the postmortem after being convinced by SP Basnet. A detailed autopsy was conducted on Dilip’s body. It took around 3 hours to complete.
On the same day, four people had been arrested for alleged involvement: Bipin Kumar Mahato, Munindra Mahato, Jitendra (aka Ranjit) Kumar Mahato, and Roshan Kumar Yadav. Roshan was Dilip’s friend who accompanied him to the site. SP Ramesh Basnet (Superintendent of Police, Dhanusha police) stated that the four had admitted to the murder with Bipin Mahato as the mastermind.
On 12th January, 2020, the district court had granted permission to the police to remand the accused in custody and further investigate the case. Inspector Yadav was also transferred to the District Police Headquarters on the same day.
Two more people had been arrested for involvement in the case: Satyanarayan (aka Jitendra) Mahato and Shatrughan (aka Vrijmohan) Mahato.
On 12th February, the District Court (bench of Judge Keshav Prasad Ghimire) sent Bipin, Munindra and Jitendra (Ranjit) to prison due to clear involvement of the three in the murder. Roshan, Satyanarayan, and Shatrughan had been released on bail of Rs. 25000 each, as their involvement was not clear. Roshan had informed the police immediately after the incident, and no animosity was found between the two.
On February 14, 2020 the three were arrested again under charges of peace and security. According to DSP Rameshwor Karki, the three have been captured again for different charges, namely for creating a commotion and disrupting the peace of the region.
Dilip’s family has accused 7 people of involvement in the murder.
Unsatisfied by the orders from the District Court, Dhanusha Police is preparing for appeal to a higher court.