A 35 year old man and his younger brother, who had complained about an illegal saw mill, were hacked by a mob allegedly in the presence of a forest department officer at Antu in UP’s Pratapgarh district.
The incident took place Saturday at the saw mill belonging to Ram Pratap Saroj, a zila panchayat member of BSP, in Gopalpur village. The victims have been identified as Iftekhar alias Pappu Pathan (35), a furniture shop owner, and his brother Aneesh Pathan (25) — residents of Jaitipur Kathar village.
The FIR, registered on Sunday, has named nine persons, including Saroj, his son Anil and one of the brothers, Tedhu. A large number of unnamed accused have also been mentioned. No arrests have been made so far.
The FIR also stated that the Forest Department officials had taken Iftekhar to the spot in their vehicle. Both the charges were denied by the Forest Department officials.
According to the police, Iftekhar had complained to Pratapgarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Anand Kumar Srivastava on January 24 that the alleged illegal saw mill was operational.
Talking to The Indian Express over the phone, the DFO said, “After Iftekhar complained about it, I directed the Ranger to check the information. Next day, he called me again and alleged that my department’s officials were hand-in-glove with Saroj and would not take any action. I reached there around 5.45 pm and noticed dry saw dust and some freshly cut wood indicating that the mill could have been functional in the last few days.”
Sandwa Forest Ranger Shiv Shankar Singh along with some staff and two personnel from the local police station, had accompanied the DFO.
As per the FIR (pertaining to murder, attempt to murder and rioting), registered based on the statement of Ikhlaq, victims’ brother, a mob had gathered at the spot and soon began beating up Iftekhar. When Aneesh reached there, he was also attacked. Subsequently, the mob killed both using sharp-edged weapons.
“It has been alleged that the DFO had brought the elder brother along with him in his vehicle for inspection, and was present when the mob attacked them. This is a matter of investigation,” said Pratapgarh Additional Superintendent of Police Visarjan Singh Yadav.
Later, senior officials and additional force reached the spot and managed to take custody of the bodies, which were later taken to the district hospital for autopsy.