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Thursday, May 24, 2012

10 forest officials taken hostage

Express News Service BARIPADA: Ten forest personnel have been held hostage by the residents of Gopinathpur village inside Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Mayurbhanj district on Wednesday. They include three foresters, two forest guards and five Protection Assistants. The villagers who had taken hostage the forester of Nigirda range Khirod Chandra Singh along with a PA on Tuesday, again kidnapped eight others demanding release of three villagers who were arrested on charges of poaching in the forest. The three villagers are Mansid Nag (40) of Gopinathpur village, Lada Tabundia (35) of Saruda village and Lanka Sinku (35) of Bagdaga village under Rairangpur forest division. The officials who have been held hostage include forester Chandra Sekhar Mishra of Lengdakocha range, forester Biranchi Narayan Mohapatra of Dhuduruchampa range and two forest guards - Jhangul Hansda and Amit Kumar Bindhani. The other five are Protection Assistants. Sources said an army of around 60 villagers cordoned off the forest range offices and took the officials hostage. Later, they took them to their village and informed the forest officials to release the arrested to get the officials freed. Meanwhile, the Forest Department and the district administration have engaged mediators to discuss the matter with the villagers. Regional Conservator of Forests and Field Director of STR Anup Nayak said five mediators were negotiating with the villagers.

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