Madhya Pradesh: Minister Usha Thakur denies role in forest office incident, seeks probe

Madhya Pradesh minister Usha Thakur on Wednesday blamed "wrong videos" posted by a former Congress MLA for an incident where she was accused of leading a group of supporters who allegedly took away an earth-moving machine and a tractor-trolley from forest department premises.

Thakur, who holds culture and tourism portfolios, claimed she has no role in the alleged incident and demanded that the forest minister order a probe into the entire episode.

Range assistant Ramsuresh Dubey has alleged that the minister had led the group which forcibly took away the machine and the tractor-trolley, which were seized by the forest department after they were used in excavation work in a protected area.

The BJP minister accused former Congress MLA Antar Singh Darbar of dragging her name in the incident which took place on Sunday evening in the forest department office premises at Badgonda in Indore district.

"I am in Kerala and came to know about the incident through the media. I had gone to Ambedkar mandal to inaugurate development works worth crores and came to know that people in Runda village near the Choral dam were facing some problem," Thakur said in a video statement.

They were facing problem because about 50-metre stretch of an approach road towards their village was in a bad shape due to large pits on it," Thakur said.

Looking at this, (BJP) Mandal president Manoj Patidar excavated soil from his own farm and was filling the pits when a forest department team arrived there and seized the equipment that was being used.

After my programme, I was returning through that area but former Mhow MLA Antar Singh Darbar has posted wrong videos on social media on which I have approached the forest minister and sought a thorough inquiry by a senior officer," she said.

Badgonda police station in-charge Ajit Singh Bais, when contacted, said he had not received any complaint so far.

Meanwhile, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) Mahendra Singh Dhakad reached Mhow after the controversy to take stock of the situation at the site where alleged excavation work was taking place.

Dhakad first reached the place on Mhow-Choral dam road where alleged excavation was going on and equipment were seized by the forest department and recorded the statement of Dubey.

Around the same time, a group of BJP workers reached the site and handed over a memorandum to Dhakad, in which they defended their leaders Manoj Patidar and others over the allegations levelled by Dubey.

Dhakad assured them that a fair inquiry will be conducted in the matter.

Later, Dhakad told reporters I have inspected the land on which excavation was done. I have directed officers concerned to write to the collector for demarcation of land in that area so that it could be ascertained whether the land in question belongs to the forest or revenue department." "Once that becomes clear, the future course of action will be planned," he said.

On Tuesday, Dubey had alleged that Thakur along with nearly 20 supporters barged into the forest office premises at Badgonda forcibly took away the machine and the tractor- trolley seized over digging work in the protected area.

Badgonda is the part of the Mhow assembly seat represented by Thakur.

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