Madan Nayak attacked after he objects to tourist group feeding chicken bits to crocodiles

Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Madan Nayak, who was attacked by a group of tourists in Dandeli on Monday, died in a Dharwad hospital on Tuesday night. His death triggered spontaneous protests by citizens of Dandeli town on Wednesday.

Government staff

Mr. Nayak was brutally battered on Monday evening near the crocodile park after an altercation with a 16-member group, most of whom were from Bagalkot. Shockingly, some of the alleged assaulters are government employees. The attackers are said to be the house guests of Dandeli City Municipal Council employee Aravind Chouvan, who were picnicking at the crocodile farm. Some of them flung chicken pieces to crocodiles in the Kali river.

ACF Madan Nayak, who was there with his family, objected to this saying feeding meat to the crocodiles was banned as there was the possibility of their attacking humans.

Row escalates

This reportedly snowballed into a huge argument, and the tourists attacked Mr. Nayak, his wife, Sumati, daughter Meghana and son Shishir. In the melee, someone picked up a stone and battered the forest official's head with it. He collapsed and was taken to a hospital in Dharwad.

Police arrested Suresh Nayak and Prashant Lamani, Aravind Chouvan and Anand Singh, an engineer working in Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL). The other suspects are absconding.

Public furious

An incensed public, furious that only four arrests were made, alleged police collusion in not nabbing the other suspects and for failing to register a stronger case. ACF Nayak's body was taken out in a procession on Wednesday in a spontaneous gesture of protest.

Police officer involved?

When contacted, Uttara Kannada Superintendent of Police K.T. Balakrishna denied the involvement of S.R. Naik, Police Sub-Inspector of Tikota in Bijapur district, in the murderous attack. He said PSI Naik was not present at the scene of the crime as was being alleged, but his mother, brother and some of his relatives have been named as accused.

Visits to the crocodile park are illegal and many officials picnic there in violation of rules, he said, adding that investigation is in progress.