A Karnataka MLA belonging to the Janata Dal (Secular) allegedly abused forest officials and threatened to burn their vehicles.
In a video that has gone viral, JD(S) MLA Suresh Gowda is seen abusing and threatening forest personnel who stopped some people from destroying trees planted in 1985 on forest land. was The incident took place in Halthi village in Nagamangala forest area of Mandya district.
The MLA also allegedly incited others to set fire to forest staff vehicles if they were prevented from occupying forest land. In the video, Gowda can be heard saying, “Don’t spare a single vehicle. You all set the forest vehicles on fire. Relax, I will take care.”
According to forest department officials, however, the disputed land has been classified as a deemed forest by the Supreme Court. On May 5, the state government handed over 374 acres of land to the forest department through a gazette notification. Also, a Tehsildar also informed the MLA and local representatives that the disputed land is a forest area to avoid future problems.
Forest officials said that even after providing all necessary information regarding the forest land, the JD(S) leaders reached the spot while the staff was trying to prevent a local resident from encroaching on the forest land.
He said that Gowda continued to abuse the staff on duty while they told him that they were only following orders issued by a superior. He added that the forest department also had proof that the area was forest land and encroachment could not be encouraged.
Gowda is reportedly keeping an eye on the upcoming elections, and as such, being part of the Bagar Hakam Committee, has issued 5,357 forms to grant forest land to local communities.
Sources in the forest department said that the same problem is also in three other villages of the same district, where people were encroaching trees illegally at night.
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