8 Madhya Pradesh forest officials arrested for killing man, burning his body
Eight forest department personnel, including a deputy ranger, were on Thursday arrested for allegedly beating a villager to death and then burning his body to destroy evidence, a police official said.
“The incident occurred on Tuesday when a villager Roopchand Sonwane (40) went to the forest to collect firewood near Gangpur village under Bahrai forest circle,” said Barghat Police Station in charge Khemendra Jaitwar.
He said that deputy ranger Santosh Uike and other forest employees caught him on suspicion that he was cutting teak trees.
Some villagers saw the forest department personnel taking away Sonwane, he added.
The official said that Sonwane was brought to Uike’s residence and the latter assured his family members, when they came looking for the villager, that he would be let off soon.
“When Sonwane did not return in the night, the family members contacted Uike again who told them that he had been released. However the man did not return till Wednesday evening,” Jaitwar said.
After the deceased’s family members threatened Uike with a police complaint, the forest deputy ranger came to the police station and revealed the sequence of events, Jaitwar said.
Jaitwar said that Uike, along with the other forest employees, beat up Sonwane, and in the process ended up killing him.
Uike told police that they had burnt Sonwane’s body in the Padnala area of the forest to destroy evidence, Jaitwar said, adding that a forensic team had collected samples from the charred body for further investigation.
He said that eight people, including Uike, were arrested today under section 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 147 (rioting) of the Indian Penal Code.
He said seven others arrested for the crime were watchmen with the forest department and identified them as Shikendra Chandra, Surendra Harinkhede, Sarwan Vishwakarma, Santosh Gwali, Santosh Lohar, Phul Singh UIke and Dilip Thakre.
Further investigations were underway, he added.