STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Kendrapara, 11 November
Uneasy calm prevailed in Sasanapeta village prompting the district police to beef up patrolling in the far-flung village lying close to Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary.
The sleepy village had hogged the spotlight for wrong reason on 18 October with irate mob torching the Gahirmatha marine forest range office in protest against the death of a local following wild boar attack.
“Armed police has been stationed in the village as locals continue to stage protest rally. Police administration is keeping close watch on the situation,” said Kendrapara SP Rabi Narayan Behera.
The state forest department is stuck in a tug of war with the locals who are opposing tooth and nail the frequent intrusion of wild animals into human habitation places. With discontentment brewing in the village, fresh bouts of confrontation may not be ruled out. The mob comprising nearly 1000 people had gone rampage at Sasanapeta village following the death of a local by a wild boar earlier last month. A three-story forest range office had been set ablaze. Two motorized boats had also met the same fate. Besides the forest department jeep had also been set afire by the angry locals.
The non-disbursal of Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia compensation to the bereaved family has added to people?s annoyance towards the forest department, thus aggravating the matter further.
For forest department, the human lives are less precious. Safety of wildlife, it seems, is of paramount importance than that of the local residents, locals charged.
62-year-old Kirti Bhusan Mandal succumbed to the violent attack by hordes of wild boars. The unfortunate death occurred on 18 October. However the forest personnel are insensitive to the plight of the family. Mandal&’s family has not received a single penny from the forest department in form of ex-gratia.
Situation is volatile in the village. Breach of law and order situation appears imminent. For multiplicity of factors, the whole of the village has turned inimical towards the forest department and police, said a rights activist, Gayadhar Dhal.
People are living in a state of panic anticipating police crackdown. Cases have been registered against about 700 villagers in connection with 18 October burning down of forest office. The village wears deserted look with male folks fleeing their homes fearing arrest. About a dozen of innocent people who had nothing to do with disturbances have been arrested so far, he added. “My husband and two other male members of our family have fled from the village. We are apprehending police action. We lived on income from fishing activity. As male members have left, we are in dire straits. We have nothing to eat. We are living on charity of neighbours,” said Shantilata Mandal.
Ex-gratia sum would be paid to the deceased&’s family after the completion of legal formalities.