Ranger among 8 forest staff injured in attack by villagers in Kuldiha

Nilagiri: Eight forest department personnel, including a ranger and a woman staff, were injured in an attack by locals at Hatikhulia village in Kuldiha sanctuary in Balasore district on Thursday evening.

The incident happened when a team led by Ranger Laxman Kumar Pradhan entered the village to rescue a forester held hostage by the villagers. The forest department personnel were thrashed mercilessly and their guns and mobile phones were snatched away.

The forester had gone to Hatikhulia to see things for himself after getting information that some people were scheming to damage a beat house located in the village.

Sukumar Das, the injured forester, said, “The forest departement personnel were attacked at first. The villagers also snatched away our mobiles and guns.”

Laxaman Kumar Pradhan, ranger, Kuldiha, stated, “When we went to the village to rescue one of our colleagues, the villagers attacked us at the first sight. They detained three of our staff. Somehow, we managed to escape and hospitalize the injured.”

Sources said the villagers could have been angry and attacked the government staff over the forest department personnel’s drive to stop ‘akhanda’ poaching in the sanctuary.