Illegal logging: Timber smugglers thrash forest officials, evade arrest

Accuse police of protecting, giving special treatment to gang led by an absconder; Kahuta police deny accusation


Shahzad Anwar July 01, 2015
Four forest officials were trying to do their jobs in the protected forest area of Kallar Syedan. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:


A few days ago, four forest officials were trying to do their jobs in the protected forest area of Kallar Syedan, and were savagely thrashed for their troubles.


Rawalpindi Division District Forest Officer Iftikhar Farooqi told The Express Tribune that an illegal logging operation, headed by a notorious absconder named Tari and also employing his son Mohsin, Umair, and 12 other people, was behind the assault on a sub division forest officer (SDFO), two forest guards and a watchman on the night of June 27 near Ghoon village in Kahuta. He said that police did not take action against Tari or any of the other men, despite the fact that all of them were nominated in the FIR registered at the Kahuta Police Station.

He said the gang seriously injured the SDFO after beating him and then throwing him down a hill, adding that they also thrashed the two forest guards with clubs, causing serious injuries. According to the DFO, the timber smugglers’ boss, Tari, first resorted to firing when the SDFO and his team caught a trolley loaded with chirr pine trees cut from the adjacent reserved forest. The forest officials had gotten a tip off from a local resident.

SDFO Irshad Gondal and two other forest officials are currently under treatment at Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi.

SDFO Gondal told The Express Tribune that they were attacked by Tari and his gang, which is mostly made up of men from Annor village. He said that Tari fired at them with a 223 rifle before thrashing them.

After Tari learnt of the FIR, he went to the police station in person to file a counter-case against the forest officials at the same police station, Gondal said, while asking how the police failed to arrest a declared absconder when he showed up at the police station.

The forest officials said the Land Rover (LL2002) Tari used to shift the illegally felled trees is still park in front of his house and yet, the police have not arrested him or even confiscated the vehicle. He said that the incident did nothing to deter timber smugglers, who are still cutting trees in the area.

Meanwhile, Kahuta SHO Amir Khan said people from the Gazara forest area stopped the forest officials and a guard came to the police station to register the FIR against the forest officials.

He said that Tari is wanted in many cases and three police officers had already been deputed to locate and arrest him. He added that the forest official may have mistaken the guard for Tari.

Rawalpindi Timber DFO Abid Hussain Gondal said that if people from around the Gazar forest really did file an application against forest officials, the police should also take action on it, while adding that the police were actually trying to conceal facts, including that “they gave official protocol” to an absconder who is wanted in many open cases.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.

COMMENTS (2)

Ashiq Ali Khan | 5 years ago | Reply I appreciate the bravery of this forest team and wish him early recovery. Great reporting by Shahzad Anwar and Express Tribune but the society must raise up. I propose that the civil society makes a symbolic march towards the police station and demand justice against the timber smugglers or else there will be no resistance to the timber mafia
Jan Alam | 5 years ago | Reply Its time that the society must realize how poorly equipped forest officers risk their lives to save forests and in return the police en-cash even the valour of forest officers and entertain proclaimed absconders and still try to make some extra bucks out of chaos. The forest officer Irshad Gondal deserves a gallantry award but instead he is treated as a suspect by the police. Where is the civil society WWF etc who find safe havens in air conditioned offices !
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