Tension prevails in the tribal areas of Melghat -- famous for its tiger reserve -- in Amravati district, following the death of an alleged poacher in forest custody late on Friday night.
According to reports reaching in Nagpur on Saturday, the forest personnel picked up one Jagan Dhurve, a tribal of Viva village in the region, on Friday morning for his alleged involvement in killing of leopards. He was arrested on the basis of information given by four accused, who were arrested by a joint operation of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh forest personnel, in January this year.
In forest custody, Dhurve admitted that he killed three tigers of Melghat region and showed the spot to the forest personnel on Friday afternoon. The officials of forest department also found a skull of a tiger from the site. The forest personnel kept him in a separate room at Simadoh on Friday night for further interrogation where he committed suicide by hanging himself, informs a senior forest official.
Tension built up when the news of the death of Dhurve in forest custody broke out. The local legislator, Rajkumar Patel alleged that Dhurve had committed suicide because he was unable to bear the torture of forest personnels. They beat him mercilessly during interrogation that led him to end his life.
The news of his death spread and an angry mob started raising slogans against the forest administration and their barbarism on Saturday morning. The agitated tribals of the region, headed by the local legislator Patel blocked the road traffic of the Indore-Amravati Highway for hours on Saturday. They also pelted stones on street vehicles and tried to damage the state properties.
Tension kept brewing until the senior police officials intervened on Saturday evening. The body was sent to the Yavatmal Medical College and Hospital for a post-mortem from where a panel of doctors would perform the post mortem.
Nitin Kakotkar, the field director of Melghat Tiger Project described the incident as an unfortunate one and asserted that no forest personnel beat Dhurve during the interrogation.
Melghat is one of the oldest tiger reserves in the country, spread over 1597 sq kms. Cases of tiger poaching are quite common in the area. The inter-state poachers are very active in the region. As many as 77 tigers were spotted in 1989 census which has come down to 64.