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Uttarakhand forest staff complains of lack in arms, ammunition

DEHRADUN: After Uttarakhand state forest department ordered self-defence training for female employees of the department, many pointed out shortcomings such as lack of arms and ammunition supply to the women force members on the ground.

Jairaj, principal chief conservator of forest and head of forest force, Uttarakhand state said, “The training will help the women of the forest force to deal with situations which arise during their jobs and otherwise also. We hope the initiative will boost the morale of the force.”

Coaches and trainers of judo karate and taekwondo have been hired by the department to conduct training sessions for the female staff.

Women field workers which include forest guards, inspectors and forest range officers cited for the need to be done more.

Apart from the threat to life from the wild while working in the field, other dangers such as wildlife criminals also lurk.

Many asserted the need for improvement in aspects of training, better equipment and vehicle along with better pay.

Malti Bisht (name changed) commenting the issue said, “We are not provided with any arms and ammunition while patrolling. What if we face armed wildlife criminals intending to even kill us? We should be equipped better to do our job.”

In June 2019, Bahadur Singh Chauhan, a forest guard was shot dead by timber smugglers after he tried to stop smugglers from cutting down trees in Berhaini range of Terai Central forest division.

Earlier, in March 2017, Pehalwan Singh, a beat watcher from the forest department was deliberately crushed under a tractor when he tried to oppose those involved in illegal mining on the Kosi river bed in the Jwala forest area at Kaladhungi near Ramnagar.

The incident had sent ripples across the state with the chief minister visiting the victim’s family and promising help.