Odisha: 3 Forest Staff Arrested For Death Of Eyewitness In Similipal Jumbo Poaching Cover-Up Case

Baripada: Three forest staffers were arrested by Jashipur police on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the death of Turam Purty, a protection assistant and lone eyewitness in the suspected elephant poaching cover-up at Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR)’s core area in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.

The arrested forest department employees have been identified as dismissed Jenabil’s former ranger Siba Shankar Samal, forester Chandrabhanu Behera and forest guard Binod Kumar Das.

They were arrested after Orissa High Court rejected their anticipatory bail plea, sources said.

A case was registered against them on the basis of a complaint filed by the wife of the deceased, alleging that he was severely beaten up and poisoned by the trio. “They were apprehended from Bhubaneswar following raids and will be forwarded to court today,” informed SDPO, Karanjia, Sudarshan Gangoi.

Purty had seen them burning the elephant carcass. When he spilt the beans before higher authorities, the trio allegedly threatened him with dire consequences. He then allegedly consumed poison at his place of work in Similipal, apprehending punitive measures, on December 11, 2022, and died four days later while undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital (MCH) in Cuttack.

A joint task force (JTF) headed by chief conservator of forest (Wildlife) Manoj V Nair is conducting a probe into the elephant burning incident when three forest employees set the carcass on fire and threw the ash and remnants of the jumbo into a river to erase the evidence.

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