Indore: They are warriors camouflaged as forest officers sacrificing their lives to save their colleagues, villagers and even animals. Observing National Forest Martyrs Day in India on September 11 every year, we remember the sacrifice of those who laid their lives to protect the forests and wildlife across the remote corners of the country.
On this National Forest Martyrs Day, we salute these warriors and bring you some recent glimpses into the tales of brave warriors protecting our forests and villages.
Chinta Baiga: the protector
Resident of Umariya village, 45-year-old Chinta Baiga son of Baijari Baiga was posted to stay in a temporary tent in jungle under Eco Vikas Samiti scheme. He was posted at the camp to protect wildlife from poachers and hunters.
On April 2, 2020, Baiga was attacked by a tiger. With no way to escape the big cat, Baiga lost his life while serving to protect the same big cat.
Deepu Rana: the young brave warrior
The young warrior Deepu Rana aged 24 year old from Annupur was a true warrior. Having joined the service on June 22, 2016, he began service as forest guard.
Committed to protection of forests, he appointed as one-man-army in Gatigaon (west) from 2019 onwards.
On May 4, 2020, Rana got a tip about illegal bamboo cutting. He rushed to investigate.
The offenders escaped, as he reached the spot. Suddenly, Rana heard firing of a bullet. He followed the sound and reached a spot 500 kilometres from the local temple.
The offender sat armed with a gun and a dead eagle lay next to him. Rana tried to catch the offender but before he could, the offender shot Rana.
Shot in the chest, Rana lost his life while protecting forests and wildlife.
Ramdarsh Sharma: service before self
The fact of wildlife is their behaviour is unpredictable and often difficult to control. A protector of wildlife Ramdarsh Sharma was posted in Singrauli to care for the wild elephants that had come from Chhattisgarh.
On Oct 11, 2019, the wild elephants lost temper and moved about angrily. Threatening villagers around, the wild elephants were on rage.
Defending villagers and saving their lives, Sharma tried to handle the human-animal conflict till his last breath. In rush and conflict, he was crushed by elephants and lost his life.
Dhanlal Mirskole: once a warrior, forever a warrior
Dedicating his life to protection of wildlife, Dhanlal Mirskole is an inspiration for many young officers. He was first appointed on May 4, 1995 for service in forest department.
Over 25 years of service, Mirskole continued to protect forests and wildlife in every possible way. On May 27, 2020, he was posted in Kukura patrolling camp.
At midnight, Mirskole was attacked by a leopard.
Ravi Pratap Baiga: lesson of responsibility
Setting an example for every forest official, Ravi Pratap Baiga sacrificed his life for protecting his fellow mate.
Posted at Bhandavgarh tiger reserve, Baiga was serving at elephant camp since 1978. He was Mahoat for Sundargaj elephant.
On Oct 3, 2019, at 11:20 am in Kumbi Kachra camp, Sundargaj kicked Inderpal Singh. Singh was a co-stationed officer of Baiga.
Baiga took charge and tried to control Sundargaj. However, powered with hormones and temper, the elephant again attacked Singh this time.
Elephant tried to move towards the jungle. Protecting his colleague, Baiga took the blow from Sundargaj and lost his life.
Vindeshwar Ram Bhagat: life dedicated to wildlife
Stationed at Panna tiger reserve, Vindeshwar Ram Bhagat spent his life protecting forests and wildlife. He had joined the department in 1993 as forest guard.
He was promoted in 2000 to forest ranger rank. In 2012, Bhagat was posted in Panna tiger reserve. As a ranger, he continued to serve at the reserve till his last breath.
On Aug 1, 2020, Bhagat was discovered that the radio collar of Tigress P433 was too tight. He was tracking the tigress to help her.
On one such tracking trail, deputy ranger Amar Singh was assigned the task. He was supposed to be riding elephant Ram Bahadur to find the tigress.
While passing on the wireless for tracking to Singh, unexpectedly Bhadur pushed Bhagat. Without another moment, Bhadhur crushed Bhagat by stepping on his chest.