Over a month after the suicide of a woman forest official, the Maharashtra Police has arrested M.S. Reddy, a suspended Indian Forest Service officer, who was the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) Field Director, officials said here on Thursday.
"Following a high-level enquiry conducted in the past one month by an IPS officer, an offence has been registered against Reddy on Wednesday. He was nabbed by the Dharni Police from the forest officers housing complex in Civil Lines here late last evening," Maharashtra Vanrakshak-Vanpal Association Executive President Hiranand M. Mishra told IANS.
On March 25, a dare-devil Range Forest Officer Dipali Chavan-Mohite, 28, had shot herself with her service revolver at her official residence in Harisal village near the MTR.
In a detailed 4-page suicide note, she had accused her senior Vinod Shivkumar (IFS) of professional torture and sexual harassment and also named Reddy for not taking cognizance of her complaints.
While Shivkumar was arrested on March 26 evening as he prepared to flee to Bengaluru, Reddy has been nabbed over a month after Dipali's suicide, but both officials were suspended late last month.
The Dipali suicide issue was raised with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray by Congress's Minister Yashomati Thakur, MP Navnit Kaur Rana and other leaders, while the forest department fraternity came out in solid support as the state government ordered a probe into the incident.
Currently, in jail, Shivkumar's bail pleas were rejected twice in the last one month, while Reddy had sought anticipatory bail which was not granted on April 3 in the absence of any offence lodged against him, said Mishra.
Dipali's suicide had sparked off a massive controversy in the state's forests and wildlife community (IANS - March 26) given her no-nonsense reputation and sincerity to her work.
Her suicide note revealed how Shivkumar allegedly tortured her, made overt or covert sexual advances and when rebuffed, punished her with gruelling jungle walks or rides even when she was in an early stage of pregnancy which resulted in a miscarriage, abusing her publicly or privately, difficult assignments and once withholding her salary.
Though she complained against Shivkumar to his senior Reddy, the latter allegedly ignored her plea for justice which may have prompted her to resort to the extreme step, said her colleagues.