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Timber gang assaults guard

Alipurduar, Sept. 26: A gang of timber smugglers beat up a forest guard before escaping with the loot in the South Panibari beat of Buxa Tiger Reserve this morning.

The guard, Sahidul Islam, is in hospital. Doctors said he suffered head injuries and needs to get a CT scan done.

Around 8.30am today, the South Panibari beat office received information that illegally felled trees were going to be smuggled out of the forest on hand carts through the nearby Sambalpur area.

A four-member team, which included Sahidul, immediately started off for Sambalpur to intercept the carts. Soon Sahidul, who was a little ahead of the others, found himself face to face with 10-15 timber smugglers. Instead of scooting at the sight of him, the gang members attacked Sahidul with sticks and hit him on the head before disappearing with the illegal consignment.

The other guards informed the East Rajabhatkhawa range office and soon a large force arrived, but by then there was no sign of the gang. Sahidul was taken to Jashor Danga Block Hospital and admitted there.

A.P. Singh, the deputy field director of Buxa Tiger Reserve (West), said the guards have managed to identify the smugglers, all of whom are from Pashchim Bania Dabri village adjacent to the forest range.

“We have lodged an FIR against the culprits,” said Singh. However, when Samuktala police went to the village, they could find none of the gang-members.

Last month, Singh was himself pushed around when he confronted a large group of timber smugglers in another part of the reserve. On that occasion too, the gang escaped with the loot.

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