Bhopal: Attacks on forest guards are increasing every year in Madhya Pradesh. Attack on three guards in Panna district two days ago has left the staffers of the forest department in anguish.
As many as 140 forest officials had been attacked in the past five years by timber mafia, poachers and mining mafias. More than 3 staffers were killed in these incidents. Incidents of increasing numbers of attacks could be judged by the fact that 28 forest employees were attacked in 2019. The figure almost doubled in the year 2020 and reached 41 attacks.
Even forest minister, Vijay Shah was perturbed over attack on forest guards by land encroachers in his home town in Khandwa in September. Shah had then taken a tough stand and said that strict action will be taken against people who attack forest staff but incidents that happened afterwards indicate otherwise.
According to the figures provided by the forest department 21 forest staffers were injured in the year 2016. One forest guard Narendra Sharma was killed in the attack and another went missing. He has not been traced till date.
Similarly, in the year 2017, 20 forest staff were injured in various attacks. In 2018, 30 forest ground staff were injured and person Subedar Kushwah was killed during the attack.
Numbers of injured went up to 28 in the year 2019 and a forest guard was killed. Same figure increased up to 41 injured in 2020.
Most of the attacks were done by the land mafias who had encroached upon the forest land. Forest guards had to face them without weapons whereas the mafias usually came well prepared and armed.
The forest guards in Madhya Pradesh haven’t got permission to use guns despite such incidents. Some weapons were bought for the forest department a few years ago but they haven’t been allotted to the field staff yet.
Forest expert and director of I-Forest that conducts research on forest guards, Chandra Bhushan says that forest staff exercises unlimited powers in the forest area but it is really apathetic to leave them unprotected.