A forest trekker was stabbed to death during an attack on a forest patrol by seven men during a crackdown on an illegal lion show on the border of the Gir forest in Amreli district. The forest patrol was assaulted near Bordi village in Dhari taluka of Amreli at around 8:30 pm on Saturday. According to the complaint filed by forest guard Naresh Vala, the accused were showing lions to their relatives in the area between Bordi and Samuh Kheti villages when the forest patrol arrived. Later, those behind the show attacked the team with knives and iron pipes. Dharmendra Vala (28), a forest trekker, was stabbed multiple times and died on the spot, police said, adding that Naresh Vala too was injured in the attack. In his complaint, Naresh Vala named Dost Mohammed, Jamalbhai, Saddambhai, Jan Mohammed, Salamanbhai and two unidentified men as the accused. All have been booked for murder, rioting and preventing a public servant from discharging his duties.
“Two of the accused, Jamalbhai and Saddambhai, were also injured in the incident. They are undergoing treatment at Ahmedabad civil hospital. We will arrest them as soon as they are discharged. Search is on for the rest,” Dhari Circle Inspector Prakash Chaudhari said.
Dharmendra had been hired as a trekker last year. A forest trekker’s job mainly involves tracking and rescuing wild animals, but they are sometimes called for patrolling duties.
“There were five persons in the patrolling party, including trekker Dharmendra Vala, forest guard Naresh Vala, a Vanya Prani Mitra (friend of wild animals) and two others. They were not armed,” said a top forest officer of Gir East division forest.
Deputy Conservator Of Forest of Gir East division, T Karuppasamy, said that presence of lions was confirmed in the area, where the patrol was attacked. The area falls in jurisdiction of Dalkhaniya range of Gir National Park and Sanctuary in Gir East division forest.
“The boy was a daredevil. Due to his good work as a Vanya Prani Mitra, he had been given contract as a forest trekker…While the police are investigating the incident, we are also looking into it,” said Aniruddh Pratap Singh, Chief Conservator Of Forest of Junagadh Wildlife Circle.