KOTTAYAM: Under tremendous pressure from various quarters, including political bigwigs, a woman forest officer has approached the Chief Minister and the Forest Minister seeking their urgent intervention enabling her to complete the probe into the controversial bison poaching case in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR).
The range officer who arrested 10 persons in the case, submitted a formal complaint before the CM, Forest Minister K Raju and top Forest officials on Tuesday. As per the complaint by Azhutha Range Forest officer Priya T Joseph, there have been deliberate efforts from certain people to hamper or divert the investigation. She further pointed out they have been exerting pressure by making false allegations against the investigating team, especially against the range officer.
Citing interference by some local political leaders who tried to settle the case, she also attached the voice records of the telephonic conversation between some local leaders and the relatives of the accused along with the complaint as evidence. Referring to constant psychological harassment and torture from various quarters, she also lodged a complaint before the State Women’s Commission as well.
It all began when the Forest authorities registered a case after spotting some body parts of a bison at Arjunankottai near Seethakulam in the Azhutha Range of PTR West on April 20. Following an investigation led by Priya, Forest officers made the first arrest on April 27. So far, 10 persons were arrested.
The authorities also seized three guns and two vehicles and collected evidence from the vehicles.“Of the 10 arrested, two are out on bail and the rest were remanded by the court,” Priya said. According to the complaint, when the investigation reached those who consumed the meat of the bison, some people turned against the Forest officers alleging they physically tortured innocent people in the name of the case.
In the meantime, some local political leaders tried to influence the investigating team to hush up the case.
The complaint stated there were deliberate efforts to hamper or divert the investigation. The investigation also unearthed large-scale poaching in Erumeli and Azhutha Forest ranges