BHUBANESWAR/DHENKANAL: Seven forest field staff, on patrolling duty, came under a brutal broad daylight attack by stone mafia during a raid at an illegal mine at Karadabani forest in Dhenkanal Forest Division on Saturday. One of the forest protection squad members, Sanjay Mohapatra sustained multiple injuries on head, while the others suffered bruises in the attack. The injured were rushed to the hospital at Barpada and an FIR lodged by the forest officials with Nihalprasad Police in this regard.
The incident occurred at 10 am when the protection squad - including two forest guards and five watchers - was patrolling in Bega reserve forest and nearby Karadabani revenue under Nihalprasad beat in Sarangi range of the division. DFO Prakash Chand Gogineni said around 25 miscreants overpowered the patrolling squad when the latter tried to stop illegal mining at the laterite stone quarry.
They also snatched a service revolver from one of the forest guards and cell phones of other staff before fleeing the spot. Mining at Karadabani is illegal as it is revenue land but its kisam is jungle. A forest staff, who was assaulted on the spot, identified the attackers to have been led by Pramod Lenka. “They were carrying stone cutters and other machinery.
Lenka is alleged to have actively involved in such illegal activities and also has criminal record,” Gogineni said, adding that an intelligence unit is need of the hour to launch crackdown and prevent such illegal activities in the forest. Joint operations by district administration, police and forest squads in the area to prevent mining in the past had not succeeded.
The revenue forest is located close to Jajpur- Dhenkanal border due to which any joint operation by local administration gives ample time to the mafia to escape. In fact, the recent spate of proactive measures to stop illegal activities in forests under Dhenkanal division has met with success. Meanwhile, Nihalprasad police arrested one Kalia Raj from a cashewnut plantation for his involvement in the incident on the day.