Social activist Girish Achar, on whose petition the High Court of Karnataka recently quashed the denotification of 260 acres of forest area in Shivamogga district, was allegedly assaulted by some unidentified people near Mattimane in Hosanagar taluk on Monday.
Girish Achar, 41, has been fighting against forest encroachment, illegal stone quarrying, and sand mining for more than 15 years. While he was on his way to Byndoor from Hosanagar on Monday, some people stopped him and forcibly took him in their two-wheeler. After travelling for about 2 km, they assaulted him . “I do n’t know who they were or why they beat me up. This is the third time I have been assaulted in the last two years,” Mr. Achar told The Hindu. He is now undergoing treatment at Sagar.
Mr. Achar said that he had faced threats because of his fights against illegal activities. “I had complained to the officers about the encroachment of Aramane Koppa forest area, questioned the cutting of acacia plantations at Hebbige village, and the illegal grant of forest land. All these cases were in the area close to the place where I was assaulted. The people who attacked me must be among those who suffered losses because of my activism,” he said. He also alleged that the police at Hosanagar had refused to register his complaint on Monday evening. He had also moved the High Court challenging the State government’s notification denotifying forest land without the approval of the Union government. The court issued an order, on March 4, quashing the denotification notification.
Jansangram Parishat has condemned the attack and urged the district administration to provide him security, besides arresting the accused. Akhilesh Chippali, district president of the forum, told The Hindu that this was the third assault on Mr. Achar. “He has protected hundreds of acres of forest land from encroachers. Despite repeated appeals, the administration has not provided him with security,” he said.
He also said that influential people who had benefited from illegal activities in the taluk were trying to silence Mr. Achar by slapping false cases against him. “After yesterday’s incident, the Hosanagar police have served him a notice asking him to appear for an enquiry on Wednesday in connection with a complaint filed in December last year by a woman from Mattimane, where the assault took place. These are all efforts to put pressure on him not to fight for public issues,” he said.
The assault on Mr. Achar has been captured by CCTV cameras installed by a shop at Mattimane. A video clip has gone viral in the district. “Going by the clip, it is clear that two people abducted him and assaulted him. The police should take Achar’s statement and arrest the accused,” Mr. Chippali said.