A COMMITTEE OF of the state forest department has ordered revocation of the suspension of Manu Bharwad, forester of Talala range in Gir (west) forest division who was suspended early last month after he allegedly confined a man and robbed him of Rs 50,000. Bharwad was booked by the Talala police for robbery, illegal confinement, criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt along with Talala range forest officer P T Kaneriya and two other employees of Talala range.
The action was taken on the complaint of Hasmukh Patel, a resident of Hadmatiya village of the Talala taluk. He had alleged that the accused harassed his younger brother Bharat Patel after booking him for entering protected forest area without permission on June 12, because of which Bharat tried to commit suicide. Hours after they were booked, Kaneriya and Bharwad were suspended for indefinite period and were transferred with immediate effect by Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) of Junagadh circle.
However, a three-member internal committee of the forest department took cognisance of Bharwad’s suspension, a Class-III officer, and ordered CCF to revoke Bharwad’s suspension. A member of the committee told The Indian Express on the condition of anonymity: “The committee examined records and concluded that the accused who had been arrested forest officers for allegedly entering forest area illegally was neither tortured nor harassed. The forest officers had taken him to a doctor who certified that he was physically fit. We also took into account the fact that the forest officers followed due procedure in arrested later releasing the accused. Therefore, the committee formed an opinion that Bharwad’s suspension was not maintainable.”
The committee included additional principal chief conservator of forests (administration), deputy secretary (inquiry) of state forest department and a forest officer of the Gir (west) division. Kaneriya, a Class-II officer, has moved the Gujarat High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case. Forest officers said that the decision on his suspension can only be taken at a higher level of the government. Circle police inspector of Talala, AB Nagori has not made any arrests in the case.