Silchar: Police have launched an investigation in connection with the destruction of Agar plants by a gang of miscreants in a forest land of the Gopalpur-Pingcherra area in Assam’s Karimganj district recently.

The forest land in Gopalpur-Pingcherra falls under Dengarbond GP under Patharkandi assembly constituency’s Dohalia forest range, about 105-km from Silchar.

As per reports, an FIR was lodged at Bazaricherra police station by a forest official on Monday regarding the incident. The complainant told the police that the matter came to light on Monday morning following which the forest department officials investigated and found that a huge number of Agar plants/saplings spread over an area of around 1.5 hectares were destroyed.

Besides, a forest nursery and signboards installed at different locations were found severely damaged, the official said. He suspected that the evil activities were carried out either on Sunday night or Saturday night.

Talking to Eastmojo on Tuesday, the complainant (whose name has been intentionally not mentioned here) said nearly four thousand Agar saplings/plants had been destroyed. He suspected that a section of local people were involved in the incident and hoped police would be able to nab each and everyone linked with the crime soon.

Locals suspect the saplings were destroyed by timber smugglers taking advantage of the absence of forest officials in that area. The workers at the Oilamcherra forest protection unit (local forest unit) had gone on leave for Durga Puja and the miscreants took advantage of that, they claimed. They also claimed that huge amounts of timber were smuggled through the area during Durga Puja.

Notably, the Karimganj district forest department had last year conducted an eviction drive in the Gopalpur-Pingcherra area (where the forest resources were ravaged) and cleared an illegally encroached-upon area spread over 50 hectares to set up a garden.

An amount of over Rs. 55 lakh was granted by the government and a joint forest management committee (JFMC) was formed for the project, which was started in May with works like fencing and planting of saplings. Around 25 hectares of land was used to plant Agar saplings and the rest of the land was to be used in the next farming season in April/May. 

Sources said police, based on the complaint, visited the Gopalpur-Pingcherra area and began a probe. However, no one was arrested as per the last reports available.

Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya told EastMojo on Tuesday that necessary steps would be taken to tighten the security of forest resources in that area (Gopalpur-Pingcherra) to prevent destruction and smuggling. He hoped the police would put all those involved in the crime behind bars soon.

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