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Family claims man beaten to death in Similipal tiger reserve

A man was beaten to death by Forest Department personnel inside the Similipal Forest, a tiger reserve, in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, his family members alleged on Friday.

The Forest Department, however, disputed the claim saying the deceased was spotted lying unconscious by its personnel while they were patrolling inside the forest.

Gajendra Naik (40), a resident of Nachhipur village under the Kaptipada police station limits, died on Thursday morning, 10 days after he was hospitalised. Family members and villagers staged a demonstration with the body in front of the Podadiha beat on Friday. They demanded compensation for the family and punishment to the Forest Department personnel.

“We eke our livelihood by collecting non-timber forest produce. My husband had gone into the forest on October 9, but did not return. Family members and some villagers went looking for him, but could not find him. Two days later, the Forest Department informed us that my husband was admitted to a hospital in a serious condition,” said Binodini Naik, wife of the deceased.

“The forest personnel told us that my husband may have injured himself falling from a height. I had doubts about this as he did not have any injuries apart from blood stains in the ear and mouth. As his condition deteriorated, my husband was referred to the SCB Medical College Hospital, Cuttack,” Ms. Naik said.

The family members claimed that they had filed an online complaint with the police.

Madan Mohan Mohanta, Ranger of Podadiha beat, said, “While patrolling on October 11, forest personnel had found the man lying unconscious. They admitted him to a hospital and also informed the local police station. The man had perhaps slipped from a height and suffered injuries.”

“The allegation of the family is baseless,” Mr. Mohanta said, adding it was prohibited for outsiders to go inside Similipal during the rainy season.

The family members said residents of fringe villages collect produce from forest in all seasons.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 8:05:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/family-claims-man-beaten-to-death-in-similipal-tiger-reserve/article32933788.ece

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