Foresters on trail of ‘smugglers’ attacked
A team of foresters, chasing a vehicle laden with illegal timber on Wednesday night, was attacked by criminals in Tufanganj, Cooch Behar district.
Four employees of the department were injured in the attack. Three of them are under treatment at the sub-divisional hospital in Tufanganj while one was shifted to the MJN Medical College & Hospital in Cooch Behar and is reported to be critical.
Sources said that the team of foresters of South Rydak forest range under Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in Alipurduar district received information that a pick-up van carrying illegal timber was heading towards Bhatibari.They soon traced the van.
As they signalled the driver to stop, he sped away, prompting foresters to chase the pick-up van. After 30 minutes, the team of foresters reached Banstala, a locality under Buxirhat police station of Cooch Behar district. Suddenly, a gang of criminals, armed with iron rods, bamboo sticks and stones attacked the foresters’ vehicle.
They damaged it and assaulted the foresters. After some time, additional teams of the department were sent to the spot from the BTR and Jaldapara National Park. A police team rescued the injured foresters who were rushed to the hospital in Tufanganj.
Later, Paritosh Das, the driver of the damaged vehicle, was shifted to Cooch Behar.The attackers as well as the pick-up van with timber are traceless as of Thursday night.
“Our men were attacked while they were chasing a vehicle. A complaint has been filed at Buxirhat police station. We are also trying to identify the criminals and want to make it clear that our drives against timber smuggling will continue,” said Juju Jaesper, the deputy field director (east) of the BTR.About a month ago, another team of foresters in Dhamshibad of Alipurduar was attacked when they were returning with seized timber after a raid.