The Janata Dal (Secular) Karnataka MLA accused forest officials of abusing them and threatening to burn their vehicles.
In a viral video, JD(S) MLA Suresh Gowda can be seen abusing and threatening forest personnel who had stopped some people from cutting trees planted in 1985 on the forest land. The incident took place in Halthi village in Nagamangala forest area of Mandya district.
The MLA has also accused others of inciting others to set fire to the vehicles of forest employees if they are prevented from encroaching on forest land. In the video, Gowda is heard saying, “Don’t leave a single vehicle. You all set the vehicles on fire in the forest. Rest, I’ll take care.”
According to forest officials, the disputed land has been classified as deemed forest by the Supreme Court. On May 5, the state government handed over 374 acres of land to the forest department through a gazette notification. Also, the tehsildar had told the MLAs and local people representatives that the disputed land was a forest area to avoid any problems in the future.
Forest officials said that even after giving all necessary information related to the forest land, the JD(S) leaders reached the spot when the staff were trying to stop the local residents from encroaching on the forest land.
He said that Gowda abused the personnel on duty even as they said that they were only following orders from a higher authority. He also said that the forest department also has the proof that this area is forest land and encroachments cannot be encouraged.
Gowda is keeping an eye on the upcoming elections and thus, being part of the Bagar Hukum Samiti, has issued 5,357 forms for allotment of forest land to local communities.
Sources in the forest department said that the problem was also in three other villages in the same district, where people were illegally encroaching on trees at night.
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