Forest Official is Smuggling Timber
Sameer Showkin Lone (Kashmir Monitor)
Srinagar: While government claims to have achieved success in tightening noose on timber smugglers, now it is top forest officials who are allegedly involved in black marketing of green gold after getting illegally felled in concerned forests.
In Zawoora village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district, the forest officials have reportedly sold some 183 feet timber in the village three days ago. Residents of the Zawoora village said three days ago the forest department unloaded some 183 feet timber in their village. The same night the locals heard the sounds of trucks and motor bikes.
“We didn’t come out of our houses out of fear and thought it was something involving the security forces. However, next morning when we ventured out, we saw just few feet of timber there and rest missing,” said the villagers.
The locals said they at their own level started enquiring the incident and came to know that the concerned District Forest Officer (DFO) along with his range officer were allegedly involved in black marketing the timber worth lakhs to a resident of the other village.
“We smelt rat into this as to why the forest officials didn’t file the FIR even after four days after the incident took place,” locals alleged, adding, the DFO has sold the timber to a local of the area to fill his own pocket.
When contacted the concerned DFO refuted the allegations of his involvement into the looting of the timber. When asked why they have not lodged the FIR and informed the police, he dropped the phone. Despite repeated attempts he didn’t answer the phone and instead switched it off.
When contacted the concerned range officer said they have started the departmental inquiry in this regard. About lodging of FIR he said they have now registered the FIR but interestingly failed to give the FIR number, which further casts doubt on them.
The range officer further said it was not 163 feet but only some 83 feet forest wood that has been stolen. “It has happened first time in the village", he said.
Repeated attempts to contact Forest Minister Mian Altaf proved futile.