PATNA: Two forest guards have been killed in a jungle inside the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) in Bihar, prompting police and forest officials to suspect the role of either poachers or wood smugglers.
The bodies of Arjun Yadav and Hiralal Kushwaha, both home guards working for the forest department, were found in Naurangia Don jungle in VTR in West Champaran district on Sunday. The duo was hacked to death with some sharp-edged weapon. Another home guard, Pradip Mahto, was left badly injured by the assailants and his condition remains critical at a hospital in Bettiah.
“The attack took place late on Saturday night when a team of forest guards was on patrol in the area. The guards were attacked when they confronted some men engaged either in poaching or wood smuggling. The matter is being investigated,” said Gaurav Ojha, the divisional forest officer (DFO) of VTR forest division.
The forest guards carried only lathis while the assailants were armed with weapons, said sources. The two murders sparked anger among the inhabitants of the two victims’ villages, which are close to the tiger reserve.
“A combing operation has started in the entire area to trace the possible killers and ascertain the reason behind the murders. A case of murder has been registered and a probe is on,” said Bagaha SP Arvind Kumar Gupta, who visited the spot of the murders along with forest officials.
Although poaching or wood smuggling is being suspected as the reason behind the twin murders, police sources said the hand of Maoists could not be ruled out.
A wild bear was killed in a trap laid by poachers in VTR on January 25 and two alleged poachers were arrested. A day earlier, another wild bear was rescued from a trap in VTR and set free in the jungles after being given medical treatment, said forest officials. VTR, 310 km north of Patna, is Bihar’s only tiger reserve that is on the Indo-Nepal border.