Tribals Kill Forest Officer For Opposing Felling Of Trees

Hyderabad: A group of tribals hacked a 47-year-old forest official to death on Tuesday when he tried to stop them from felling a tree plantation.

According to police, the tribals wanted to take up ‘podu cultivation’ in the forests of Telangana’s Bhadradri Kothagudem district, and didn’t take kindly to forest range officer (FRO) Chalamala Srinivas Rao’s intervention.

The accused, belonging to Gothi Koya tribe, migrated from Chhattisgarh and have been practising ‘podu cultivation’ by felling trees in forest areas for agriculture, a police official informed.

“Forest authorities have been preventing tribals from cutting trees in the reserve areas and taking up afforestation wherever such felling has taken place,” the cop said.

An FRO-led team had gone to Bendalapadu area on Tuesday to prevent tribals from clearing the area, where they had taken up a tree plantation drive recently.

“The tribals resisted and it led to a confrontation. Irate tribals attacked the officials with sickles and axes. While some forest officials, including Bendapaladu forest section officer Rama Rao, managed to escape, the tribals mercilessly hacked Srinivas Rao on his head and neck with sharp weapons before fleeing the spot,” the official further said.

The FRO was taken to the primary health centre and then to Khammam government hospital, but he was declared dead on arrival.

Expressing shock over the incident, Telangana Forest minister A Indrakaran Reddy said: “The government has been making sincere efforts to resolve the issue of podu lands by giving tribals title deeds soon. But it is unfortunate that they killed a forest officer who was doing his duty.”

The minister warned that stringent action will be taken against anyone indulging in violence. He also urged forest officials not to be demoralised by such incidents.

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