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Illustrative image of a JCB digger. The 40-year-old man, identified as Sreemangalam Sangeeth, reportedly got killed when he got a blow by the arm of earth mover when he challenged the gang about removing soil from his plot without his permission. Image Credit: Gulf News

Thiruvananthapuram: In a shocking case of thuggish activity, a man in Kerala who questioned a gang that was illegally taking soil from his land using an earth mover in the outskirts of the capital city, was killed when he challenged their act.

The 40-year-old man, identified as Sreemangalam Sangeeth, reportedly got killed when he got a blow by the arm of earth mover when he challenged the gang about removing soil from his plot without his permission.

His grieving wife, Sangeetha, told a local television channel that she had run out to get him out of the conversation with the gang and that she herself had a close escape from being killed.

The incident was reported from Kattakada on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram early on Friday morning. The accused, Saju, a native of Charupara, is absconding after the incident.

Sangeeth had been an expatriate before returning to his hometown. He was running a chicken stall and had small businesses.

Reports said Sangeeth had given permission to the forest department to remove earth from his plot, but on hearing that someone else was removing soil from the plot, he went to inquire. When he blocked the earth mover’s exit with his car, the gang broke his compound wall to make way.

Residents of the locality said there were four to five people in the gang, and they captured the bikes on which the gang came.

Sangeeth was rushed to hospital by neighbours but his life could not be saved. His body was kept at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College while senior police officers reached the site conducted investigations.

The state government has brought stringent regulations on sand and earth mining in recent years, but gangs — often referred to as sand mafia — have frequently flouted the rules by paying off officials or by brute force.

Part of the devastation that Kerala suffered during the floods in 2018 and 2019 were also blamed on irrational sand and earth mining across the state.