Telangana: Tribals hack forest officer to death for opposing felling of trees
The deceased has been identified as Chalamala Srinivas Rao, a forest range officer (FRO) of Chandrugonda range
A 47-year-old forest official was hacked to death by a group of tribals on Tuesday when he tried to stop them from felling a tree plantation to take up ‘podu cultivation’ in the forests of Telangana’s Bhadradri Kothagudem district, the police said.
The deceased has been identified as Chalamala Srinivas Rao, a forest range officer (FRO) of Chandrugonda range. The incident happened in Errabodu forests of Bendalapadu village.
A police official from Chandrugonda said the accused, who belonged to the Gothi Koya tribe, migrated from neighbouring Chhattisgarh, and have been practicing ‘podu cultivation’ by felling trees in forest areas for agriculture.
“Forest authorities have been preventing tribals from cutting down the trees in the reserve areas and taking up afforestation wherever such felling has taken place,” the police official said.
On Tuesday, a team of forest officials led by Srinivas Rao went to the Bendalapadu area to prevent the tribals from clearing the area where the department took up a tree plantation drive a few days ago.
“The tribals resisted and this led to a confrontation. Irate tribals attacked the officials with sickles and axes. While some forest officials, including Bendapaladu forest section officer Rama Rao, managed to escape, the tribals mercilessly hacked Srinivas Rao on his head and neck with sharp weapons before fleeing the spot,” the official added.
The other team members immediately shifted the FRO to the primary health centre in Chandrugonda and from there to Khammam government hospital, but he was declared dead on arrival.
State forest minister A Indrakaran Reddy expressed shock over the incident and said, “The government has been making sincere efforts to resolve the issue of podu lands by giving tribals title deeds soon. But it is unfortunate that they killed a forest officer who was doing his duty.”
Adding that the government will not tolerate illegal encroachment of forest lands, the minister warned of stringent action against those indulging in violence. He also appealed to forest officials to not be demoralised by such incidents.