In January 2020, Dilip Mahato, a 24-year-old engineering student from the Dhanusha district, was found dead on the bank of the Aurahi River. This was the same river where the illegal crusher industry was being operated. Dilip, an avid environmental campaigner, had been raising his voice against the illegal mining taking place rampantly in the locality. The owners of considered his protest a threat to their extraction business. He was stabbed with a pointed iron and crushed to death by a truck, just to make it appear like an accident. However, it was a well-planned crime.
After three years of the gruesome murder, the Dhanusha district court has finally given a verdict on it. Two perpetrators have been sentenced to lifelong imprisonment and one to 12.5 years of prison.
Likewise, the perpetrators are required to provide compensation to the family members of Dilip. Two of them are required to provide Rs. 500,000 while one of them has to give Rs. 250,000.
According to reports, the victim’s father is not happy with the verdict as four more individuals involved in the crime have been acquitted and released by the court. He thinks the sentences are not enough and feels the perpetrators should be jailed for life. He mentions that he may move the Supreme Court for justice.
The punishment and the compensation can never equalise the brutality with which a life was taken and how a family had to lose their precious member. However, the verdict makes us a little hopeful about the existing legal system. Coming back to the incident, let’s analyse the perpetrators.
These sand miners had exercised such ruthlessness because they were confident that they would go scot-free easily. Their actions were not just an indication of the power that they hold but also of a warning. It was basically a warning to suppress the voices of the people and continue with their illegal extraction.
And this kind of tendency is seen in every sector. Power concentration is always limited to certain groups of people who continue pursuing what they feel is most beneficial to them. Their level of greed is so high that they are not scared to remove any barriers out of the way.
The extraction area that Dilip was so vocal about is located within the Chhure range considered to be one of the richest areas in terms of natural resources and one of the most exploited as well. Excessive extraction of sand, boulders and stones has posed a serious problem to the environmental balance.
Drying up of water sources and flooding are some of the negative impacts that can strip the majority of vulnerable and poor populations of their sources of living.
So, it is justifiable that young and aware individuals like Dilip raise their voices. However, it is equally important that the state and different government agencies support them.
The state should also strengthen its policy-making and implementation to ensure that illegal activities are monitored well. Also, the loopholes within our legal system should be identified and plugged. Most importantly, the nexus between businesses and political parties need to be understood and exposed. Such connections are providing confidence to most illegally run businesses to do whatever they want. The efforts made by youths like Dilip should not go unnoticed and strict actions must be taken on the same.