SDM, forest guards injured as villagers resist eviction near Pilibhit reserve
The trouble broke out on Friday when a forest team went to clear encroachments from forest land.india Updated: Jul 16, 2017 11:26 IST
Villagers living close to Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit Tiger Reserve have been for the past three days putting up a strong resistance against an eviction drive, clashing with police and forest guards amid growing man-animal conflict in the area.
A sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and at least three forest personnel were injured when a group of villagers attacked them in Madhotanda area of Pilibhit on Friday evening. The irate villagers even vandalised some vehicles of the officials and attempted to set them ablaze.
Again on Saturday, they attacked a forest guard patrolling the reserve forest, forcing the district administration to deploy a police team in the area.
The trouble broke out on Friday when a team of forest officials went to clear encroachments from more than 500 acre of forest land near the tiger reserve to start a plantation drive in the area.
The villagers, who claimed to have been living in the area for decades, resisted the move attacking the forest team. They even kept hostage three forest guards for hours locking them in a room.
When the magistrate rushed to the spot with a police force, the villagers turned their ire against them, pelting stones. One stone hit the SDM Sadanand Saroj .
The SDM said the situation was brought under control only after additional police force rushed to the spot and detained over 30 people.
A complaint has been lodged at Madhotanda police station against 50 people for rioting and other offences.
The violence, sources said, is the outburst of pent-up anger of villagers against forest officials for their alleged failure to prevent tigers from preying on humans.
At least 15 people living near the reserve have been killed by tigers in the last 10 months. Forest officials say there are over 50 adult tigers in the reserve.
The present flare up has only increased the mistrust with the villagers now even turning their gun against the district administration.
“Earlier only forest department was against us, but now it seems even district administration is also against us,” said Lalwati Devi 23.
She alleged that during Friday’s clash, a male cop assaulted her.