THE Forest Rangers’ Association of Maharashtra has threatened a strike if police action against two Range Forest Officers (RFOs) in the Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) poaching case isn’t withdrawn. The action was initiated after locals alleged that an accused in the poaching case was assaulted in forest custody.
In a memorandum to Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, the association has said, “The registration of offences against two members, Pandurang Pakhale and Nilesh Gawande, for alleged assault on one of the 17 accused in the case, Devidas Kumre, in custody has been done under political pressure. It’s an inter-state poaching case and as such, there should be a high-level monitoring of the investigation by an officer no less than the rank of Chief Conservator of Forest. For any police action against the RFOs, the permission of Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) should be necessary and it must be ushered in as a permanent arrangement for all future cases. Further, no offences should be registered before completion of magisterial inquiry, which is pending in this case.”
The association has also called for registration of offence against zilla parishad member Shantabai Kumre, on the basis of a complaint filed by Investigation Officer Assistant Conservator of Forest Geeta Nannaware on July 27.