Mrunal Manmay Dash

Throwing an open challenge to the police and forest department, poachers opened fire at forest officials injuring three of them at Panchalingeswar Beat House under Balasore district.

The shootings occurred when a forest department team was patrolling the area on Monday night. Forest officials and the poachers came face to face at Panchalingeswar following which, the poachers fired from their guns leaving three officials injured.

Out of the three, two forest department personnel were seriously injured in the attack. They were admitted to SCB hospital in Cuttack for treatment.

After the incident, Kuldiha forest division nabbed two poachers and questioned them in connection with the firing.

Speaking to OTV, Kuladiha Forest Ranger Prabir Murmu said, “The poachers shot our forest guards from behind. Apart from forest guards, some Sabuja Bahini personnel were also injured in the firing.”

“The incident happened at around 8pm in Panchalingeswar forest. After getting information, we chased the poachers and nabbed two of them at around 2am,” he said.

Asked about the incident, Odisha PCCF Sushant Nanda said, "It has occurred as a result of intense patrolling in the area. The poachers tried to get out of their hidings after many days. The poachers were intercepted by our guards. They tried to flee the spot by firing from their country-made weapons, but they were nabbed by our officials. The injured forest guards have been admitted to SCB Hospital in Cuttack. They are out of danger."

"Similipal Tiger protection Force and Ex-Armymen are being sent to the Kuladiha forest. A combing operation will be undertaken in the area from tomorrow. I request all the people in the area in possession of country-made guns or any other weapons to surrender immidiately," Nanda added.

Abinash Rout, registrar of the Cuttack SCB Medical College and Hospital said, “They were admitted to our trauma casualty ward this morning. The two have received bullet injuries in their legs. A bullet was removed from one injured and another bullet will be removed. A team of doctors is looking after their treatment. Their condition is stable."

It is pertinent to mention here that the Similipal forest spanning across Mayurbhanj and Balasore is infested with poachers and they hardly hesitate to fire shots at forest department officials. Earlier in June 2023, a Forester Mati Hansda was shot dead by poachers at Karanjia in Mayurbhanj district.