Principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Narendra Kumar has taken a serious note of a complaint accusing a senior forest official of beating up a 60-year-old tribal for grazing his cattle in the buffer zone of the Satpura Tiger Reserve (STR) in Betul district. The victim allegedly suffered severe damages in one of his ears and eyes in the assault.
Talking to HT, Kumar said a written complaint on the matter was lodged with the forest department and the police on September 1 by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey accusing STR field director RP Singh and a few other wildlife officials of beating tribal Nanuram Yadav, a resident of Dhapada village, Betul, on August 6.
Dubey in his complaint claimed that despite several attempts by the locals and the village sarpanch, the police did not lodge an FIR against the accused official. HT is in possession of a copy of the complaint.
“It is a serious allegation and I will look into the issue and only after thorough investigation take appropriate action,” the PCCF said.
According to sources, principal secretary forests AP Shrivastava has also asked principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Ravi Srivastava, to look into the matter immediately and take appropriate action.
When approached on the issue, STR field director RP Singh, however, rubbished the charges. “On August 6, we were driving near the buffer zone of the park when we encountered this villager…(his) cattle (were) in the midst of the road. Despite blowing the horn repeatedly, he didn't clear the road…We asked him to clear the way for us to pass, but he did not budge. Then there was heated exchange…and we snatched his axe, fearing he might attack us with it. I didn't injure him in any way. All such allegations are baseless,” he said. Singh also said the victim was not a tribal.
The STR field director accused Ajay Dubey of targeting him. “The fact is that Ajay Dubey is after me because I did not oblige him in the past,” he alleged.