Around 30 residents from Emerald in the Kundah taluk in the Nilgiris staged a protest in front of the District Forest Officer’s office in Udhagamandalam on Thursday, September 14, 2023 alleging that the man they arrested for poisoning a tiger was innocent and had been wrongly implicated by the department.
The residents alleged that the man arrested for the poisoning of a cattle carcass that led to the death of at least one tiger in the Udhagai South Range in the Nilgiris forest division did not possess any cattle. “The only cattle that was owned by the family was lost in 2019 to another tiger attack for which he was not compensated. The forest department staff, who had come to investigate the tiger deaths had asked the villagers whose cattle had been killed, promising them compensation. Thinking he could get compensated for the loss of his cattle, Sekar, the accused, confessed that it was his cattle, unaware that he would be arrested,” alleged one of the protestors.
Following the protest, police and forest department staff spoke to the protestors and convinced them to disperse. When contacted, S.M. Sasikumar, Forest Range Officer, Udhagai South Range, denied the claims of the villagers. He said that the forest department has evidence showing that Sekar’s wife, Malliga, had registered a cow she owned with the Ithalar Milk Co-operative Society in December of 2022. “We have submitted all evidence proving their ownership to the court,” he said.
District Forest Officer (Nilgiris division), S. Gowtham, said that there was “substantial evidence” incriminating Sekar to the poisoning of the tiger, adding that the forest department also had a video confession of the accused admitting to his crime.