ADILABAD: In yet another attack on forest officials in the state, four tribals roughed up forest beat officer Swapna at Kothapalli village in Mancherial district on Tuesday.
The incident comes after a similar attack on Bellampalli forest officer Ch Anita on June 30 at Sarasala village in Kumarambheem-Asifabad district while she was leading a team of officials in planting saplings. She was allegedly attacked by TRS leader Koneru Krishna, brother of ruling party MLA Koneru Konappa and his supporters.
On Tuesday, it was a repeat of the attack, but this time it was by members of a tribal family headed by one Balu Naik, who cornered Swapna and beat her up after throwing chilli powder into her eyes. The trouble began when Balu Naik’s family saw her removing the mango saplings they had planted.
When she was temporarily unable to see what was happening as chilli powder was thrown at her face, the assailants beat her up. Though about nine forest staff were present, they could not do much.
According to officials of the forest department, Balu Naik and his family had encroached forest land and were growing mango plants despite several notices to vacate the land.
Speaking to TNIE, Bellampelli forest divisional officer-in-charge D Raja Rao said Nennel forest range officer Govind Sardar had sought police protection but there was a lukewarm response from the police. On Tuesday again, before going to the field, the forest officials approached the police but they did not respond favourably. If the police had provided protection, the attack could have been avoided, he said.
When contacted, ACP M A Rahman said that they had arrested Balu Naik and his family members after registering a case against them. On the request of the forest department for protection, he said officials who went for tree plantation on October 26 were provided security. The forest officials then removed 150 plants that were being grown illegally.
As far as Tuesday’s attack is concerned, he said the forest department did not seek any protection.