NATIONAL

Forest officials blame land mafia for protests

The higher authorities of the Forest Department suspect the hand of the land mafia in inciting agitations in Wayanad following suspected attacks by a tiger on cattle and rumours about converting the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary into a tiger reserve.

The Chief Conservator of Forest (Northern Circle) has written to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests that he strongly suspects that some miscreants associated with the land mafia and criminals are behind the recent agitations.

In the report, he said some miscreants were spreading baseless rumours about the declaration of a tiger reserve despite the State government’s denial of any such move.

Wayanad has been witnessing waves of protests for two weeks against the alleged move to open the tiger reserve, fuelled by the suspected tiger attacks.

The official said the unrests were the “handiwork of some anti-social elements whose vested interests are under threat.” These elements were instrumental in spreading a fear psychosis among the local people. The attack by a tiger had given an opportunity to the disgruntled elements to instigate the local people against the Forest Department.

Wild-animal attacks on cattle are nothing new in the district as 129 cases were reported in 2011.

The report spoke of an organised attempt to terrorise the forest officials who were attempting to mitigate the problems faced by the people from frequent attacks by wild animals. The agitations were intense and violent, the forest officials held hostage and threatened with assault.

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