Friday, May 2, 2008

Forest officials beaten up, cops let culprits go

Ashwin Aghor
Friday, May 02, 2008 02:43 IST

The forest department team that had gone to Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary to demolish the illegal construction of Sadanandbaba Ashram on Wednesday had a narrow escape when Sadanandbaba, along with trustees and devotees, assaulted the members. However, despite reaching the spot in time, the Thane (Rural) police did not arrest the culprits.

The team was led by assistant conservator of forest VP Patil and range forest officer Subhash Darade. Sources said when the team tried to confiscate peacocks from the ashram, the devotees prevented it from entering the premises. When the forest officials tried to force their way in, the devotees allegedly locked them in a room and beat them up.

They were released only after a team from the Virar police station reached there. However, to the forest officials’ surprise, the police criticised them for raiding the ashram without the police’s knowledge.

“We were surprised to know that we would have to take permission from the police to carry out operations in our own jurisdiction. Police can not dictate terms to us,” said a senior forest department official.

“This attitude of police is not acceptable. Forest department officials are free to discharge their duties. Police must act on the complaints they receive,” said Babanrao Pachpute, state forest minister. Police would have to take action against the culprits, otherwise we would recommend action against them, Pachpute added.

Wednesday’s turn of events is a result of the eviction notice issued to the trust, which was asked to vacate the premises before April 30. Apart from carrying out illegal construction inside a sanctuary, the ashram trustees violated Wildlife Protection Act by keeping four peacocks in the premises. The ashram is said to have strong political support.


1 comment:

MOHIT said...

i have been to this ashram personally lots of is in the deep forest area.,situated at good height,may be one of the highest hill on tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary.
they also have facility for overnight stay for devotees,and free food twice a day.
to find this ashram in core forest area is surprising and it definately has very strong political support.
devotees pour in daily in good numbers,specially on weekends.