A group of four youths from North Poro forest village in Buxa Tiger Reserve near Alipurduar, North Bengal went in the morning today, 8 February 2008, to the forest to collect fuelwood. While they were coming back, they met the routine Patrol Unit of the Forest Department (FD). The FD Patrolling unit stopped them to question about the fuelwood they were carrying. It was just when the boys, aged between 20-25 years of age, were telling them, one of the Patrol unit members of FD shot one of the boys - aiming straight at the head of the boy from a very close range. The boy, Samen Rava, died on the spot. The other three fled for their lives.
It is said that the Patrolling unit of the FD tried to bury the body - an act the FD is known to have done in the past in many such cases.
It is important to note that the boy killed in the firing alongwith his friends belong to the traditional Rava Tribal communiuty whose rights (including collecting fuelwood) are protected under 'The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006".
This brutal act of the Forest Department is yet another example of the atrocities the department has always engaged in. With the passage of the Forest Rights Act, the FD and the other vested interest groups are, no doubt, trying to inflict much more brutalities on the forest dwellers.
This heinous act of the Forest Department should be countered with widespread condemnation and assertive reactions.
"Protect Livelihoods - Protect Resources" National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)New Delhi E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org