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Tribal’s death prompts protest in MP, family alleges harassment by forest department

It was alleged by the family that a forest officer had demanded Rs. 1 lakh from the deceased to free his tractor

Sabrangindia 20 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:thehindu.com

Accusing an officer from the forest department of allegedly subjecting a tribal to harassment in regards to a seizure case, villagers in Dhana area of Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh, staged a road blockade and place the body of the deceased tribal on the road, the Hindustan Times reported.

Sequence of events

Gond’s younger brother Mukesh told HT that the forest officers had seized his tractor trolley on accusations of encroachment of forest land and promoting encroachment. Mukesh said that Maniram had requested the forest officer to not take away his equipment as it was the time to sow seeds as per his contract of farming 5 acres of land. However, the officer didn’t listen to him and later allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh.

Gond’s wife, Ashok Rani, who is also the Sarpanch of the Belai Mafi Panchayat said that Gond had gone to get back his tractor on Saturday evening. He had arranged Rs. 30,000 to free the same, but Gautam demanded nothing less than Rs. 1 lakh. Allegedly, the officer scolded at him and Gond suffered a cardiac arrest on his way back due to which he passed away.

HT reported Ashok Rani as saying, “My husband was mentally disturbed and couldn’t bear the trauma.”

Gopal Bhargava, the PWD minister who supported the blockade said that he had spoken to CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the matter and promised monetary compensation to Gond’s family said that he himself had intervened in the matter and asked the forest officer to leave the tractor but to no avail, HT reported. Bhargava also said that he had spoken to the District Forest Officer (DFO) in the matter too but no heed was paid. HT reported Bhargava as saying, “Being a minister when they are not listening to me, I can understand how they are harassing tribals. That’s why I joined the protest against the officer of forest department. Suspension is not enough, we want FIR against him.”

However, MS Uika, the DFO Sagar south range was said that while he was aware of the matter and had spoken to minister Gopal Bhargava, he wasn’t aware of the fact that Devesh Gautam had demanded a bribe.

As per HT, the police said that the villagers accused a forest range officer Devesh Gautam of harassing the deceased tribal, Maniram Gond and allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh to free his seized tractor trolley. Gopal Bhargava had also threatened to call over 10,000 people if the matter wasn’t investigated promptly. A police complaint was also registered at the Dhana police outpost 15 days ago when Gond’s tractor was seized.

 

It was also reported by HT that Sagar district collector Deepak Singh had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the matter and that the Chief Conservation of Forests (CCF), Amit Dubey had suspended Devesh Gautam for not handling the case adequately.

Related:

Dalit couple attempt suicide after forceful eviction, police brutality
MP Forest Department allegedly burns down tribal family's home  

Tribal’s death prompts protest in MP, family alleges harassment by forest department

It was alleged by the family that a forest officer had demanded Rs. 1 lakh from the deceased to free his tractor

Image Courtesy:thehindu.com

Accusing an officer from the forest department of allegedly subjecting a tribal to harassment in regards to a seizure case, villagers in Dhana area of Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh, staged a road blockade and place the body of the deceased tribal on the road, the Hindustan Times reported.

Sequence of events

Gond’s younger brother Mukesh told HT that the forest officers had seized his tractor trolley on accusations of encroachment of forest land and promoting encroachment. Mukesh said that Maniram had requested the forest officer to not take away his equipment as it was the time to sow seeds as per his contract of farming 5 acres of land. However, the officer didn’t listen to him and later allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh.

Gond’s wife, Ashok Rani, who is also the Sarpanch of the Belai Mafi Panchayat said that Gond had gone to get back his tractor on Saturday evening. He had arranged Rs. 30,000 to free the same, but Gautam demanded nothing less than Rs. 1 lakh. Allegedly, the officer scolded at him and Gond suffered a cardiac arrest on his way back due to which he passed away.

HT reported Ashok Rani as saying, “My husband was mentally disturbed and couldn’t bear the trauma.”

Gopal Bhargava, the PWD minister who supported the blockade said that he had spoken to CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the matter and promised monetary compensation to Gond’s family said that he himself had intervened in the matter and asked the forest officer to leave the tractor but to no avail, HT reported. Bhargava also said that he had spoken to the District Forest Officer (DFO) in the matter too but no heed was paid. HT reported Bhargava as saying, “Being a minister when they are not listening to me, I can understand how they are harassing tribals. That’s why I joined the protest against the officer of forest department. Suspension is not enough, we want FIR against him.”

However, MS Uika, the DFO Sagar south range was said that while he was aware of the matter and had spoken to minister Gopal Bhargava, he wasn’t aware of the fact that Devesh Gautam had demanded a bribe.

As per HT, the police said that the villagers accused a forest range officer Devesh Gautam of harassing the deceased tribal, Maniram Gond and allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh to free his seized tractor trolley. Gopal Bhargava had also threatened to call over 10,000 people if the matter wasn’t investigated promptly. A police complaint was also registered at the Dhana police outpost 15 days ago when Gond’s tractor was seized.

 

It was also reported by HT that Sagar district collector Deepak Singh had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the matter and that the Chief Conservation of Forests (CCF), Amit Dubey had suspended Devesh Gautam for not handling the case adequately.

Related:

Dalit couple attempt suicide after forceful eviction, police brutality
MP Forest Department allegedly burns down tribal family's home  

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