Tribal from N. Begur near Bandipur was arrested on charges of possessing, selling deer meat
H.D. Kote: A case of murder and illegal detention has been booked against 17 Forest Department officials including Range Forest Officer (RFO) and Deputy Range Forest Officer (DRFO) of Gundre Range of Bandipur Tiger Reserve following a death of a tribal in their custody yesterday.
The victim, identified as Kariyappa, was a resident of Hosahalli tribal hamlet under N. Begur Gram Panchayat limits in H.D. Kote taluk. 41-year-old Kariyappa had been detained by the Forest officials on charges of possessing and selling deer meat. The case has been registered at Antharasanthe Police Station.
The officials, who have been booked, are RFO Amruthesh, DRFO Karthik Yadav and staff Anand, Bahubali, Ramu, Shekharaiah, Sadashiva, Manju, Umesh, Sanjay, Rajanayak, Sushma, Mahadevi, Aiyappa, Somashekar, Tangamani and Siddique Pasha.
Kariyappa was arrested and taken into custody on Monday afternoon and was illegally detained. According to Kariyappa’s relatives, the Forest staff assaulted Kariyappa and he died due to pain and exhaustion at K.R. Hospital in Mysuru the next day.
In his Police complaint, Kariyappa’s son Satish said that the Department staff had come to their house on Monday at around 12.30 pm searching for Kariyappa. They allegedly threatened the family of dire consequences and burn their house if Kariyappa was not handed over.
Beaten black and blue
Satish alleged that his father was arrested on the same afternoon and was taken to the Forest office. Next day (Tuesday) evening, DRFO Karthik Yadav called Ravi, Kariyappa’s relative to take him home as he was unwell. When Ravi went to the Forest office, he found Kariyappa unable to walk or move as he was beaten up black and blue.
As Ravi refused to take Kariyappa to the hospital in that state, the Forest staff took him to Mysuru and admitted him at K.R. Hospital where he died, Satish said in his complaint.
He told the Police that his father died due to third-degree torture by the Forest Department officers and staff.
On their part, the Department officials claimed that Kariyappa had a history of illness and they had no role in his death. However, this claim was refuted by the family members and relatives who alleged that Kariyappa was tortured to death.
Protest demanding action
Soon after the news of Kariyappa’s death spread, relatives, tribals and their leaders and political party workers along with members of NGOs gathered at the Forest office to protest, seeking the arrest of the perpetrators of the crime. The Police were called to the spot and the protest was withdrawn only after the FIR was registered.
The Department officers and staff were booked under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 242 (illegal detention).
H.D. Kote Tahsildar Rathnambika visited the mortuary in Mysuru and said that action will be taken against the guilty if it is established that Kariyappa died due to torture meted out to him.
Kariyappa has four children and an aged mother. Tribals alleged that even if an animal dies of natural causes or if it is a suspicious death, the tribals living on the fringes of forests are targeted by the Forest Department.
MLA Chikkamadu too joined the protest and demanded action against the guilty officers.