Forest property worth Rs. 20 lakh destroyed by miscreants in Assam's Hailakandi district

SILCHAR: Over one lakh forest resources, including seedlings and saplings, planted by the forest department in a nursery in southern Assam’s Hailakandi district have allegedly been set ablaze by a gang of three miscreants.

The incident has been reported from Malicherra under the Kukicherra forest range, around 40km from Hailakandi town.

An FIR was lodged by the forest department at Katlicherra police station on Tuesday in this connection.

As per the complaint, the three miscreants identified as Abdul Sheikh, Budul Uddin and Fakhrul Islam, all residents of Hailakandi district, barged into the premises of the nursery in Malicherra around 1 am on December 1 with sharp and lethal weapons and threatened to kill two watchmen of the nursery.

The miscreants, thereafter, destroyed the seedlings, poly pots and other stacks of seedlings and later set them on fire. Property worth Rs 20 lakh has been destroyed, the complaint stated.

A copy of the FIR has also been submitted to the Hailakandi divisional forest officer.

Sources said a team of policemen from the Katlicherra police station led by an assistant sub-inspector F. Ahmed visited the nursery after the FIR was lodged and conducted a preliminary investigation.

A manhunt is on to nab the accused. However, no one has been arrested so far.

Another source said, “Multiple houses were razed, fisheries were cut and a huge number of betelnut trees were chopped by the forest department as part of an eviction drive to clear illegal encroachments following the government’s order in Malicherra a few months ago. It is being suspected that the accused destroyed the forest resources for taking revenge.”

On being contacted, Hailakandi divisional forest officer Akhil Dutta told EastMojo on Thursday that the matter has been reported to the police authorities and a search is on to get hold of all the culprits.

On being asked about the motive behind destroying the forest resources, Dutta speculated that the miscreants did that for “vested interests”.

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In October last year, nearly four thousand Agar plants and saplings spread over forest land, about 1.5 hectares, in the Gopalpur-Pingcherra area in Karimganj district’s Dohalia forest range were destroyed by unidentified miscreants. An eviction drive was carried out by the forest department in the Gopalpur-Pingcherra area also in 2021 to clear an illegally encroached area spread over 50 hectares to set up a garden.

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