FIR against Goa forest officials who probed tiger poaching
27 Aug 2009, 1557 hrs IST, IANS
PANAJI: The Goa forest department has joined issue with the state police, saying it will fully back three of its officials who have been booked for "doing their duty" while dealing with an accused in a tiger poaching case.
Goa's chief conservator of forest Shashi Kumar said the issue of a first information report (FIR) filed against his department officials would be taken up with the home ministry soon.
"My officers were on government duty. They were investigating the poaching of a tiger, not a sparrow. The department will not only give them legal assistance, but we will also be taking up the matter with the home ministry," Kumar said.
The Valpoi police Wednesday had booked three forest officials - assistant conservator of forest Anil Shetgaonkar, and range forest officers Paresh Parab and Tulshidas Wadkar - for wrongful confinement and causing grievous hurt to tiger poaching accused Suryakant Majik.
The FIR follows a complaint which was filed more than three months ago. In his complaint, Suryakant Majik, whom the forest department has accused of killing a Royal Bengal tiger, a protected animal under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, had claimed that the three officials had beaten him up when he was in the forest official's custody.
Majik, who is employed with the home guard department, which works in tandem with Goa police, had been arrested after a forest department probe indicated his alleged involvement in the poaching of a tiger in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, where a tiger was trapped and shot dead and filmed subsequently.
The case was exposed after wildlife activist Rajendra Kerkar published photographs of the slain tiger in the print media here.
"We are going to back our forest officials to the fullest. They were investigating a serious crime," Kumar said, adding investigations into the tiger poaching case had been temporarily stalled in view of the delay in the forensic examination of the poached tiger's bones and other remains.
"I have spoken to the director of the Wildlife Institute of India based in Dehradun who have said they will expedite the forensic tests. The report is expected soon," Kumar said.