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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Forrest officials beaten up by mining mafia in Ranthambore

TNN | May 16, 2012, 02.35AM IST JAIPUR: At a time when the state has embarked on a special campaign against illegal mining in the state, there is little that is stopping the mafia from going ahead with their activities even in a sacrosanct place like Ranthambore tiger reserve. The government has undertaken a two-month special drive against illegal mining in the state from April 23. A forest ranger and a forester were recently beaten up by the illegal mining mafia in the core area of the reserve. The duo were halted by a group of villagers and beaten with sticks. They somehow managed to come out of the clutches of the mafia. According to sources, Baler range officer Rajendra Singh Chaudhary and forester Bhratlal Verma visited the area after receiving a tip off on illegal mining activities. "After reaching the area they found rampant illegal mining in the zone. The area is part of the reserve and falls in the critical tiger habitat. The officers seized two tractors that had been laden with stones and were on their way through the highway when they were halted by a group of villagers," said the sources. "The villagers blocked their way with the help of three bikes and tractors. Thereafter, the officers were beaten with sticks and their uniforms were torn. The officers received injuries in their shoulder and arms and the two seized tractors were taken away from their possession," one of the sources added. An FIR has been lodged in this regard at the Bhairanda Kala police station. When contacted, officers of the forest department confirmed the incident. However, they said that mining activities have been stopped at the reserve. "We have put an end to all mining activities in the reserve with the help of police and the district administration but sometimes these kinds of activities do take place and we are helpless," they said. Illegal mining in and around the reserve has been a menace for the forest and the tiger populace in it. Areas such as Uliyana, Badhlav, Mohanpur Padli, Vasso, Bhuri Pahadi, Sukhwas Chhan, Sanwata and Bhernwanda Khurd, located in the core area of the reserve, used to be at the centre of such activities in the past. According to conservation biologist Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch, "The Baler range is very important for future tiger population in Ranthambhore. If we want the existing cubs to survive we have to support the forest staff and motivate them to work fearlessly on ground."

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