NASHIK: On receiving a tip-off about Khair timber smuggling in Surgana taluka of Nashik district, forest officials reached the spot on Monday night to get their hands on the smugglers. However, the smuggler, present along with its group, attacked the forest officials, causing several injuries to the officials’ bodies. A cross-complaint has been launched in this regard.
According to the reports, the forest department received a tip-off about Khair timber smuggling in the Umbarthan forest range of Surgana taluka around 07:30 pm.
Based on this information, the officials set up a trap to catch the smugglers. Complainant Ramji Kuwar, a forest ranger, said Lalji Tople was smuggling Khair timber in a tractor (MH 15 PS 7286). Kuwar and his fellow forest rangers Hiraman Thavil, Janjiram Chaure and Akshay Padvi were patrolling in Umbarpada Shivar near Chafawadi around 9:30 pm on Monday when they found Khaira wood in Lalji Tople’s tractor.
When he was stopped by these officials, he called in the villagers and obstructed the officials’ work. Kamlakar Chavan, Savlaram Gavit, and Dnyaneshwar Gavit disrupted the government work and beat the officials mercilessly.
Even Kuwar’s two-wheeler was damaged in the process. The officials sustained injuries in the attack. In the attack, Kuwar was dragged to their village and held hostage for one-and-a-half hours.
Talks have emerged among the masses regarding the smuggling of timber repeatedly from Songir to Gujarat. Police are finding it difficult to hunt down the culprits behind the smuggling racket.
Lalji Tople has filed a cross-complaint against the officials, stating he visited the hill area around 01:30 pm on Monday to fetch fodder, parked the tractor, and came back home. In the evening, when he was returning home with an empty tractor, the four officials stopped him and asked him to smuggle the timber to Umbharthan. On refusing to smuggle the wood, the forest official beat him mercilessly, as alleged by Tople.
A complaint has been lodged by both parties in this regard. Assistant Inspectors of Police Sagar Nandre, Sahare, Senior Inspector Barde, E G Bhalerao and Dhumse, under the guidance of Surgana police senior officers, are conducting further investigations.