काठमाडौं : बूढानीलकण्ठ नगरपालिका-५ स्थित बूढानीलकण्ठ स्कुलको गेटनजिकै बा १४ च ६१२३ नम्बरको सुजुकी कारले शनिबार बिहान साढे १० बजेतिर सडक पेटीमा हिँडिरहेकी लीला देवकोटालाई किच्दै बत्तियो।
मानिसलाई किच्दै हुत्तिएको उक्त कार बिजुलीको खम्बामा गएर ठोक्किँदै रोकियो। कारबाट दुई युवती निस्किएर भागे। लिलालाई ठक्कर दिने २१ वर्षीय पृथ्वी मल्ल र २० वर्षीय करिश मास्केलाई प्रहरीले तत्कालै समात्यो। उनीहरु दुवैलाई महानगरीय प्रहरी वृत्त महाराजगञ्ज लगियो।
कारको ठक्करबाट कम्मरमाथिको भागमा ठूलो चोट लागेकी लिलालाई नजिककैको न्यूरो अस्पतालमा ल्याइयो। तर, उनलाई चिकित्सकहरुले मृत घोषित गरिदिए। बिहान साढे १० बजेतिर भएको दुर्घटनामा लिलाको शरीरमाथि गाडी कुदाउने मल्ल र मास्केका आफन्त दिउँसो ४ बजेसम्म पनि पीडित परिवार र प्रहरीको सम्पर्कमा आएनन्।
पस्मिना उद्योगमा काम गर्ने लिलाको मृत्युको खबर सुनेलगत्तै उनका मजदुर साथीहरु र आफन्तहरु न्युरो अस्पतालमा जम्मा भए। प्रहरीले हतारहतार शवको मुचुल्का उठाउन र जाहेरी दिन दबाब दियो। तर पीडित पक्षले पहिले पीडकको परिवारसँग यो गम्भीर लापरवाहीबारे छलफल गर्न चाह्यो। पीडित पक्षका मानिसहरु न्यूरो अस्पतालमा रहेकै बेला महाराजगञ्ज बृत्तको हिरासतका दुवैका लागि परिवारले लुगासहितका सामान छाडेर गए। त्यसपछि प्रहरी बृत्त पुगेका लिलाका आफन्तको दबाबपछि मात्रै प्रहरीले मल्ल र मास्केका परिवारलाई बोलायो।
महानगरीय प्रहरी परिसर काठमाडाैंका प्रमुख उत्तमकुमार सुवेदीले यो दुर्घटनाबारे छानविन भइरहेको बताएका छन्।
मदिराको मस्ती, शरिरमाथि गस्ती
बूढानीलकण्ठ बस्ने लिला शनिबार बिहान टुँडिखेल छेउको संकटा मन्दिरमा दर्शन गरेर घर फर्कँदै थिइन्। सडकको पेटीबाट हिँडेकी उनलाई लेन मिचेर अनियन्त्रित गतिमा आइरहेको कारले एकैठाउँ पारिदियो।
स्थानीयवासी, घटनास्थलका प्रत्यक्षदर्शी र प्रहरीअनुसार ती व्यक्तिहरु रातभर काठमाडौंका रात्रिकालिन बजारमा मादक पदार्थ पिएर दुईजना युवतीसहित बिहानीपख शिवपुरी नजिककैको डाँडागाउँ पुगेका थिए।
त्यहाँ पनि मदिरा पिएका उनीहरु तिनै युवतीलाई कारमा राखेर महाराजगञ्जतर्फ आउँदै थिए। मदिराले मातेका उनीहरुले लापरवाहीपूर्वक सवारी चलाएको स्थानीय राजन ठकुरीले जानकारी दिए।
दुर्घटनापछि क्षतिग्रस्त कार
बिजुलीको पोलमा ठोक्किएको कारभित्र रक्सीका बोतल र विभिन्न प्रकृतिका मादक पदार्थसमेत भेटिएको प्रत्यक्षदर्शीहरुले बताएका छन्। तर महाराजगञ्ज प्रहरीले भने अहिलेसम्म घटनाको विस्तृत विवरण सार्वजनिक गरेको छैन। मृतक लिलाका आफन्तलाई अनुसन्धान भइरहेको एकोहोरो जवाफ प्रहरीले दिइरहेको छ।
अमेरिकामा पनि मल्लको उस्तै वितण्डा
लिलाको ज्यान लिनेगरी कार चलाउने मल्ल पाँच दिनअघि मात्रै अमेरिकाबाट फर्किएका व्यक्ति भएको खुलेको छ। बूढानीलकण्ठ नगरपालिकाको हेपाली हाइटका मल्ल अमेरिकामा पनि मादक पदार्थ पिएर पटक-पटक वितण्डा मच्चाउने व्यक्ति रहेको खुलेको प्रहरी स्रोतले जानकारी दियो।
पीडित परिवारसँग शनिबार अबेर भेटेका मल्लका आफन्तले पनि पीडक परिवारसँग आफूहरु नै मल्लसँग दिक्क भइसकेको बताएका थिए।
मचुल्का उठेन, उम्कने दाऊ
तुलनात्मक रुपमा सम्पन्न पृष्ठभूमिको चालक पृथ्वीका परिवार दुर्घटनाबाट आफुहरु जोगिने बाटो खोज्न लागिपरेका छन्। महाराजगञ्ज प्रहरी बृत्तमा फाट्टफुट्ट देखिएका उनका आफन्तले वकिलको सहयोग लिएर भएपनि अभियुक्त पृथ्वी र करिशलाई जेलबाट निकाल्ने दाबी गरिरहेका छन्।
मृतक लिलाका आफन्तले भने मादकपदार्थ पिएर मनलाग्दी सवारी चलाएर मानिस मार्ने पृथ्वी र गिरीशका परिवारले घटनामा मानवीय संवेदनशीलता देखाउँदै माफी मागेर उचित क्षतिपूर्ति दिनुपर्ने माग राखिरहेका छन्। तर गाडीले किचेर मान्छे मार्ने मल्ल र मास्केको एकाघरका सदस्य भने अहिलेसम्म पीडितसँग सम्पर्कमा आइसकेका छैनन्।
चुडिँयो पस्मिनामा उनिएको सपना
परिवार, श्रीमान् र बालबालिका सबैको जिम्मेवारी सम्हालेकी लिला गोरखाको सुलिकोट बारपाक गाउँपालिका-८ बाट एकदशक अघि काठमाडौं आएकी थिइन्। चारजना छोराछोरी र श्रीमान्सहित काठमाडौं आएकी लिला छाउनीको एक पस्मिना कारखानामा काम गर्थिन्।
उक्त कम्पनीमा उनका नातासमेत काम गर्छन्। बाबुनानीको भविष्यका लागि कारखानामा घोटिँदै आएकी देवकोटा दम्पत्तिको सपना एक दुर्व्यसनीहरुको मनमौजीले पस्मिनाको धागोझैं चुँडिएको छ।
Most Saturday mornings, Leela Devkota would be at a temple, circumambulating the gods and offering prayers. When she had finished, she would return home to Budhanilkantha before going about her Saturday.
This past Saturday, as she was walking along the footpath in Budhanilkantha on her way back from Sankata Temple in New Road, a grey Suzuki car careened onto her path. The car struck Devkota, before losing control and ramming into an electric pole.
According to locals who witnessed the accident, two men and two women emerged from the car as 38-year-old Devkota lay prostrate on the sidewalk. The two women went to a nearby shop to buy recharge cards for their phones while the two boys attempted a bizarre excuse.
“The two boys were trying to escape, saying they did not drive the car and that the driver had already fled,” said a neighbourhood butcher who witnessed the entire incident. “However, when we confronted them, they confessed that one of them was the driver.”
The driver was 21-year-old Prithvi Malla, who locals said was so drunk that he could barely walk straight. The car was full of beer bottles and reeked of alcohol.
“The men were not even able to stand properly. We were wondering how he had even driven the car,” said a tailor who was also an eyewitness. “Police arrived after about 10 minutes and took the two men into custody. However, until then, the two women had already disappeared.”
The Post was unable to independently verify the identities of the two women who were in the car.Prithvi Malla, 21, was driving the car that killed Devkota. Photo via Malla's Facebook
While police arrested Malla and 20-year-old Karish Maskey, one of the co-passengers, Devkota was rushed to the nearby Neuro Hospital. Moments later, Devkota was pronounced dead.
Over the next 48 hours, the incident would explode over social media. While many were outraged at the irresponsibility of drinking and driving, others expressed fears that the perpetrators, who are from influential, wealthy families in Kathmandu, would get away with the crime.
On the morning of the incident, Malla and his friends were returning from a night of partying. Friends and acquaintances who know Malla from Kathmandu and his time in the United States describe him as a heavy drinker with an aggressive personality—and express no surprise at what happened on Saturday morning. Malla had a penchant for drinking and driving, two of his friends told the Post.
Malla had been in Kathmandu for just a few days, to spend winter vacation from his college in Florida. The night before the incident, Malla and his friends were photographed at an upscale nightclub in Thamel. An employee at Lord of the Drinks confirmed to the Post that Malla and Maskey were at the club between the hours of 11 pm and 12 am with two women. The women have been identified as Paramita Rana, a model, and Manisha Maharjan, who is a friend of Rana.
According to police, Malla and three friends—police wouldn’t confirm the identities of the two women—arrived at the Green Valley Resort in Shivapuri at around 8.15 in the evening. It’s unclear whether the group left for the club after checking into Shivapuri. The park rules do not allow entry after 5 pm unless you are staying at the resort.
But when the Post approached the manager at Green Valley on Wednesday, he denied that the group had stayed at the resort.
“Malla, along with others, came here on Saturday morning and were heavily drunk,” said the manager who refused to provide his name. “They were loud and using foul language and we were worried it would disturb other guests, so we offered them an outside table. They left within 20 minutes.”
But the police’s recorded statements from Malla and Maskey contradict the resort staff’s statement. Green Valley Resort is located inside the Shivapuri National Park and all vehicles that enter the park need to sign in at the entrance. According to the log, Malla entered the park on December 13 and checked out on December 14. Both men admitted during police interrogation that they spent the night at the resort.
“Records show that Prithvi Malla, accompanied by three others, entered the park at 8:15 pm on December 13,” said Sundar Thapa, a Shivapuri National Park officer. “Even if they were drunk, we are not authorised to take action against them, so we allowed them to enter after filling in all the required information.”
Since the incident on Saturday, people have posted hundreds of comments on social media, highlighting the contrast between Malla’s high-profile and well-connected family background and Devkota’s humble life.
Devkota, who had moved to Kathmandu from Gorkha nearly a decade ago, had been working at a pashmina factory in Dulal Gaun, earning Rs20,000 a month.
“She has been working in the factory alongside her husband for around 10 years,” said Rashmi Karki, one of Devkota’s colleagues. “She was always a very cheerful person.”
Devkota, who has three daughters and a son, lived in a rented apartment in Budhanilkantha with her family. Her eldest daughter is married while two others are in college, one in Japan and the other in Kathmandu. Her son is currently in the eighth grade.Devkota's family is mourning at a temple in Macha Pokhari. Post Photo: Shuvam Dhungana
“Everything was going so well,” Ram Kumar Devkota, her husband, told the Post. “Both of us worked as it was difficult for me to provide for the family and pay the rent by myself. When I got the call from the police, I was shocked.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Ram Kumar and other family members were in mourning at a temple in Macha Pokhari. Ram Kumar was visibly angry as he recalled his wife and her death at the hands of reckless young men.
“People like Malla should be in jail for life as the incident could happen to any other person in the future,” said Devkota’s elder brother. “Pedestrians don’t feel safe walking on the road due to people like Malla. We are hoping that the police will take strict action against him.”
According to police sources, Malla does not hold a Nepali driving licence. Police said it did not obtain other forms of driver’s license from Malla on Saturday.
“Malla is in custody while his friend has been released as we can only charge the driver, not passengers,” Deputy Superintendent Umesh Lamsal, chief of the Maharajgunj Metropolitan Police Circle, told the Post. “Although his friends and family visit him often, there’s been no pressure from the Malla family to release him. We are conducting further investigations into the case.”
The police are pursuing a case of vehicular homicide, which according to Article 161 (2) of the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act, carries a jail term of two to 10 years.
“We have been in mourning since the accident,” said Ram Kumar, “and so far, we have not received any offers of compensation.”
A photo obtained by the Post shows Malla (second from right) and Maskey (left) at LOD nightclub on Friday night. Rana (third from right) and Maharjan (right) were seen with the two men that night.https://tkpo.st/36YhvrB
Last edited: 19-Dec-19 10:40 AM