Forest guards open fire on tribal in Periyapatna

A controversy is brewing over forest guards opening fire on a tribal in the Hunsur wildlife range of Nagarahole in Periyapatna.

The incident took place near Rangigate hamlet on Wednesday and the tribal identified as Basava is undergoing treatment at K.R.Hospital in Mysuru.

A section of the adivasis led by Jede Jayappa claimed that the Forest Department was trying to fix Basava on false charges. Averring that he was an eyewitness to the incident Jayappa said Basava had gone to an adjoining field to answer the call of nature but was shot by forest guards at around 10.30 a.m. without assigning any reason.

But the forest guards brough a few gunny bags with sandalwood logs and kept it at the spot where the shooting took place and painted a picture that Basava was caught red-handed in the act, alleged Jayappa.

Jayappa, who spoke to media persons in Mysuru on Thursday, said the local police have refused to take cognizance of their complaint or register an FIR. “We were told that the Forest Department itself has filed an FIR against us and hence there was no need to register the case twice as the details will be unraveled during the course of the investigation’’, said Jayappa.

Meanwhile, Mahesh Kumar, Director, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, refuted the allegations of harassment or fixing anyone in a smuggling case. He said Basava was part of a sandalwood smuggling gang and hunt was to nab the others who are absconding. The guards opened fire in self-defence as they had come under attack and were hospitalised at Kushalnagar but discharged later.

Countering the charges of the adivasis that the Forest Department brought sandalwood to set up a crime scene Mr.Mahesh Kumar said the department had prior information of timber felling and sandalwood smuggling and reached the spot.

“It is a frequent occurrence in this part of the forest and they had gone scot-free all these days but have been caught red-handed this time. In case the Forest Department wanted to wreak revenge, it would have registered any number of cases. But instead the case has been handed over to the police for investigation’’, he added.

Meanwhile, Kannada actor Chetan who was informed of the developments by a network of activists, took up cudgels on behalf of the adivasis and said such atrocities on tribals should stop.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:53:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/forest-guards-open-fire-on-tribal-in-periyapatna/article37808967.ece

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