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Smugglers injure two foresters

Alipurduar, Aug. 10: Two foresters on patrol duty were injured when a gang of timber smugglers attacked them with sharp weapons early this morning in north Khayerbari forest.

Ranjit Oraon and Safiul Islam were taken to Falakata hospital and later shifted to MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar. Oraon has been taken to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri.

Forest sources said around 2.30am today, five foresters from Khayerbari beat under Madarihat range were on patrol in north Khayerbari forest when they heard the sound of trees being chopped off.

When the foresters followed the sound and went deeper into the forest, seven-eight timber smugglers attacked them with daggers and iron rods. Two foresters were injured and the three others managed to flee. The foresters who fled the spot informed the residents of nearby Khairbari village. Local people rushed in and took the two injured foresters to the Falakata hospital.

Today, residents of Khairbari village blocked the Falakata-Madarihat state highway at 5th Mile area from 7am. The blockade was withdrawn around 12noon after police assured the protesters of strong action against the smugglers.

V.K. Sood, chief conservator of forest, wildlife north, said: “Timber smuggling is common here. We are trying to stop it though staff strength is limited.”

The forest officers have lodged an FIR with Falakata police naming two persons.

Goutam Das, a resident of 5th Mile, said: “We have complained to the forest officers about illegal felling of trees many times. We have decided that we will assist foresters on patrol duty.”

Khageswar Karji, the secretary of Trinamul-affiliated United State Government Employees’ Federation, said: “Smugglers use sophisticated weapons while we have old arms. There is no security for us while we are on duty.”