Rights panel summons forest personnel

CHENNAI, JUNE. 1. The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has ordered summons to two forest officials for appearance on June 22 in connection with a harassment complaint by a woman. It has also ordered the officials to file their replies by that date.

Krishnaveni of Kodungaiyur here, in a petition, said she was a daily wage earner and her husband was a retired watchman. In March this year, 20 forest department personnel descended on their house and dragged her husband out.

They said that he should tender evidence in a case but he said he was ignorant of the matter. When Krishnaveni intervened, she was pushed and abused.

As a crowd gathered, the personnel left. The woman said she lodged a complaint against the forest officials with the Kodungaiyur police.

On coming to know of the complaint, 20 officials, led by a forest range officer, again came to her house. Her pleadings that her husband had left the house were in vain. The visitors entered the house and used abusive language. They seized a piece of wood, which was used to cut vegetables, saying it was redwood. Even as her children stood helpless, she was taken to the forest office at Teynampet, where she was repeatedly questioned.

To her shock, she was produced before a magistrate who remanded her to custody. Later, she came out on bail. She said she was harassed because her husband refused to tender false evidence.

Taking cognisance of the complaint, the Commission member, S.Sambandham, ordered issue of notice to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to file his reply to the complaint by June 3.

Even as the complaint was pending, Krishnaveni on Monday came to the Commission office and represented to the member that the harassment did not stop. Recording her representation, Mr.Sambandham ordered issue of summons to a forest range officer and a forest guard.