THE STATE Government has issued a GO that gives the foresters legal protection that will help them protect forests and wildlife. A GO issued by home secretary on August 4 stated that foresters, using firearms for protection of wildlife and forests if injures any suspect in the process, have to face a magisterial inquiry. The probe would held to ascertain whether firearms were used with mala fide.
However, before the GO was issued, if any forester used firearms even to protect forests and wildlife, he had to face a trial like any other accused under relevant sections. Talking to HT about the GO, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) B K Patnaik said after the implementation of the GO, the situation would be different.
He said the foresters, especially the field staff involved in the protection of forests, had to suffer if they used firearms even against the poachers. However, Patnaik made it clear: “If a forester or a forest guard uses firearm in self-defence or for the protection purpose will have to face magisterial inquiry.”
Patnaik said that the inquiry would be conducted to establish whether firearms were used in self-defence or for protection of wildlife and forests. Reacting to the GO a forest ranger said, “It was because of the fear of getting booked for charges of attempt to murder or murder, we did not use fire-arms.”
“Though the government order does not give us full liberty on par with the police force and Army, it will come handy for the protection activities,” he added.
There are many officers and lower rank field staff who are facing the charges of attempt to murder and murder for using firearms. The officials of the Forest Department were imparted training in using firearms at Moradabad police centres. Although the foresters were trained in using sophisticated arms, they would be allowed to use only the conventional weapons.