Mrunal Manmay Dash

In the wake of mass cease-work protest by Forest department employees, particularly by the 600 odd forest protection assistants, police force has been called in to patrol the Similipal forest area.

As per reports, 30 police personnel were mobilized to different critical sectors of the forest on Monday morning. Three more platoons of police force will be deployed shortly too.

Speaking on the police deployment, Similipal RCCF, Prakash Chand Gogineni said, “Around 600 protection assistants with various demands aren’t coming to duty from yesterday. Even the forest staff too are desisting from discharging duty. Keeping that in view, I requested the SP to sanction some police personnel to fill in for the protesting forest staff.”

“The SP approved 30 police personnel from Jashipur and Udala police stations and they are already mobilized in the critical areas of Similipal forest. That is not all. We need more personnel on the field. So three platoons of police force will be made available for us in a day or two. We hope that will be enough strength to effectively patrol the forest for now,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the members of the Odisha non-gazetted forest services association have launched a symbolic protest against the killing of forester Mati Hansda, who was shot dead by poachers on June 16 night in Karanjia of Mayurbhanj district.

As part of their protest, the Forest Department officials will be on duty, however, they will refrain from patrolling, sources informed adding that, the symbolic protest will continue till July 8.

Forester Mati Hansda was shot dead by poachers in Karanjia of Mayurbhanj district. Sources said that the Forest department team intercepted a group of poachers inside the range. On seeing the forest officials, the poachers opened fire. Mati Hansda, who sustained a bullet injury on his chest, was immediately rushed to the hospital following the attack. However, he succumbed to the injury later.

Mati's murder was the second such killing in Similipal in the past two months. Earlier in the month of May, a 35-year-old forest guard was shot dead by a group of poachers. A poacher was also killed by forest department officials.

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