JD(S) MLA Abuses Forest Staff, Instigates People to Burn Vehicles If Encroachers Are Stopped

A Karnataka legislator belonging to the Janata Dal (Secular) allegedly abused forest officers and issued threats to burn their vehicles.

In a video that has gone viral, JD(S) MLA Suresh Gowda is seen abusing and threatening forest staff who restrained some people from destroying trees planted in 1985 on forest land. The incident took place at Halthi village in the Nagamangala forest range of Mandya district.

The MLA also allegedly instigated others to set fire to the vehicles of the forest staff if they were stopped from encroaching upon forest land. In the video, Gowda can be heard saying, “Don’t spare even a single vehicle. You all set forest vehicles on fire. Rest, I will take care.”

According to forest officials, however, the disputed land has been classified as deemed forest by the Supreme Court. On May 5, the state government through a gazette notification handed over 374 acres to the forest department. Also, a tehsildar had also informed the MLA and local representatives that the disputed land was forest area so as to avoid issues in future.

Forest officials said even after providing all the necessary information related to the forest land, the JD(S) leader reached the spot while staff were trying to stop a local resident from encroaching on forest land.

They said Gowda kept abusing the staff on duty even after they told him that they were only following orders issued by a higher official. The forest department also had proof that the area was forest land and encroachment could not be encouraged, they added.

Gowda is reportedly eyeing the upcoming elections, and thus, by being part of the Bagar Hukum Committee, he has issued 5,357 forms to local communities to grant them forest land.

Sources in the forest department said the same issue prevailed at three other villages in the same district, where people were illegally encroaching upon trees in the night.

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Originally published at www.news18.com

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