Arson in rural areas during hartal on Friday

The Forest Department, which incurred an estimated loss of Rs.2.50 crore in the violent incidents in the rural areas of Kozhikode district during Friday’s hartal, will submit a detailed report to the State government seeking action against the miscreants responsible for the act. Officials in the Divisional Forest Office said the report, prepared on the direction of the Ministry of Forest, would be submitted to the government on Tuesday.

As a preliminary step, the department has filed separate complaints with the police against the persons suspected to be involved in the two incidents. Forest officials who were on duty at the time of the attack will hand over the evidence and photographs to the police. Attempts will be made to retrieve the photographs that the hartal supporters deleted from the cameras of Forest officials.

Two office buildings of the Forest Department — one at Thamarassery and another at Peruvannamoozhi — were set afire in Friday’s violence. The record room at the Forest office at Thamarassery, containing decades-old important files, was gutted. All files were destroyed in the fire.

Divisional Forest Officer R. Adalarasan said two department vehicles were gutted in the violence. As per the preliminary report, the Thamarassery office incurred a loss of Rs.2 crore. Three other vehicles seized in connection with forest offences were also set ablaze, he said.

On the possibility of recovering the lost data and case details, Mr. Adalarasan said the department could collect the details of the files from the copies kept at the Divisional Forest Office in Kozhikode. “We keep a copy of all records at the Divisional office, which will help in follow-up action on the majority of the files,” he said.

The Officer also clarified that the department did not have the soft copy of the records lost in the incident. “However, the new files with the department are in digital format,” he said.

Based on the complaints filed by the Forest Department, the police teams from Thamarassery and Peruvannamoozhi have begun investigations to identify the persons who attacked the forest offices. Statements have been taken from Forest officials.