Forceful release of 9 from custody
KALPETTA: The Forest Department personnel and the police are blaming each other for the incidents that led to a group of nine persons, allegedly CPI(M) supporters, forcefully releasing nine persons from the custody of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) at Mananthavadi.
The nine persons were arrested on Wednesday evening when they were attempting to smuggle out freshly cut bark of ‘Idinjil’ (Pterospermum rubiginosum), a rare species of tree of medicinal value.
The forest personnel took into custody 200 kg. of bark and two vehicles — one Toyota Qualis and a Mahindra jeep.
On Thursday night, a group of persons stormed the forest inspection bungalow and released the accused. It is alleged that the group tore up the charge sheet prepared against the accused.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) E. Pradeep Kumar complained that the Forest authorities had asked for police protection and complained against the attack at the inspection bungalow, but the police did not officially take up the complaint.
The group is also reported to have attacked two mediapersons in the inspection bungalow compound before the police finally arrived at the spot.
The nine accused are Pallikkunnu Kuzhiyil Chandran, 26; Echom Mannikudi M. Rajan Vaidyar, 36; Arinchermala Therakkattil Sathyan, 24; Echom Balakrishnan, 30; jeep driver Poolath Akbar Ali, 30; Kolliyil Sreevalsan, 24; Parammel C.K. Rajan, 34; ,Kottarakkunnu Mavumkandy Prakashan, 25; and Payyampalli Nettameny Sunil, 24.
Mananthavady MLA K.C. Kunhiraman has accused the Forest Department personnel of trying to foist false cases against the accused, of which, he claims, eight are Adivasis.
He said it was part of a series of attempts aimed at marginalising the Adivasis. He claimed that Advasis enjoyed the right to procure resources from the forest of unprotected category.