Forest guard beaten unconscious by timber mafia at marketplace

Attacks on government employees in Madhya Pradesh by the mafia continue unabated with a forest guard in Panna being beaten up by members of the timber mafia on Tuesday in the latest incident.

Liptan Singh Thakur was beaten up at a market by a gang of 10 people led by mafia don Arjun Singh Yadav.

Mr. Thakur was rushed to the hospital after he fell unconscious.

In February, Mr. Thakur had helped the forest authorities prevent the mafia from smuggling tons of teakwood out of the Panna forest.

The Panna Field Director's office confirmed the incident.

The Opposition has condemned the incident saying the morale of government officials was at the lowest as the “government had bowed down completely before the mafia.”

Levelling a series of allegations against the State government, Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh said the government continued to protect the mafia at the cost of honest government officials and employees.

“The timber mafia operates with impunity in Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan's hometown Budhni where a former BJP MLA's brother Ashok Singh and Rajendra Singh continue to smuggle precious teakwood. Ashok Singh has a warrant against him but the police are not arresting him on the excuse that he is absconding when he is repeatedly seen attending public functions,” said Mr. Ajay Singh.

“The local police have slapped a false molestation case against the forest ranger who caught the smuggled wood,” he claimed.

The Madhya Pradesh government has been under fire from the Opposition as well as the media following a string of attacks on the police and administration by the mining and timber mafia, starting with the alleged murder of IPS officer Narendra Kumar.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has already announced that the government will be recommending a CBI probe into the death of the IPS officer.

Earlier on Thursday, Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani directed the government to take action against a mining inspector for his alleged involvement in illegal mining by a private company in Betul district.

Mr. Rohani's directions came after the issue was raised by Congress MLA Sukhdeo Panse who alleged that the inspector had connived with a Mumbai-based construction company GVH Pvt. Ltd. which “illegally mined 1200 truck-loads for use in a six-lane road project.”

AHRC condemns attacks

Meanwhile, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has condemned the attacks on government officials by the mining mafia in the State.

In a statement, the AHRC cited the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report on illegal mining in the State. “The CAG has reported an estimated 6906 illegal mines [to be] operating in Madhya Pradesh owing to which the country is losing Rs. 1,500 crore every year.”

The report claims that a similar amount is lost due to improper revenue enforcement in otherwise legal mines where there is no regulatory compliance, for instance concerning environmental impact, loss of forest area and water resources.

“A scrutiny of records from eight forest divisions in the State reveals that an estimated 1507.391 hectares of forestland is allotted for non-forest use, without obtaining permission from the Central government,” the AHRC statement reads.

Timber mafia operates with impunity in CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan's hometown Budhni: State Congress

Speaker asks government to take action against mining inspector for alleged role in illegal mining