Indian “green warriors” still disenfranchised
Chandigarh: National Forest Martyrs Day was celebrated on September 11. It is intended for people who have sacrificed their lives for the wildlife and forests of India. They fight to feed nature and protect flora and fauna. However, surprisingly, even as they carry out their often risky tasks, they are deprived of many basic rights that they should have long ago reclaimed. This day was created in 2013 by the Ministry of the Environment and Forests. So far, since 2012-2017, 162 foresters, DFO and senior officers have sacrificed their lives to protect forests, wildlife, rivers, mining, etc. The Center does not yet have exact data on the martyrs of the forest. The Sunday Guardian spoke to several IFS officers and found that there is an urgent need to improve the law and the system for “Saviors of the Forest”.
Why September 11 matters
After the declaration of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, this day officially came into being and it was in 2013. The ministry chose this date (September 11) because, on that day in 1730, the Khejarli massacre took place in the country. By order of then-king Maharaja Abhay Singh of Rajasthan, soldiers began cutting trees to provide wood for a new palace. Meanwhile, a woman identified as Amrita Devi offered her head in place of the sacred Khejarli tree. Angry at this act, the inhabitants of this village stood up to protest and offered their lives in place of the trees. After beheading her, the soldiers massacred more than 350 people, including Amrita’s children. Hearing about this massacre, the shocked king immediately ordered his soldiers to stop killing people and apologized to those who belonged to the Bishnoi community. Along with his apologies, King Maharaja Abhay Singh issued a statement stating that no tree cutting and animal killing will take place in the areas around Bishnoi villages.
Last year, the issue was raised by an MP from Rajya Sabha regarding inadequate compensation for the families of forest martyrs. Even though they roam the forests in the pouring rain, checking the welfare of wildlife in bad weather, risking their own lives, they are not ordered to shoot, but are allowed to keep a fair gun. for pleasure. This disparity means that the families of forest martyrs have to pay a heavy price.
Whether in Punjab, Gwalior, Uttarakhand or Goa, many families of forest martyrs have been ruined. Deepu Rana, Forester (Beat GuradSankua), of Gwalior sacrificed his life on May 4, 2020 while patrolling remote forest areas with limited personnel. He was trying to stop illegal timber smuggling and was shot dead there in the jungle. He had virtually no support system and his family received no support from this department. In the Punjab case, block forest officer Davinder Singh, 48, and his colleague were seriously injured in a sand mafia attack at Block Majri in Mohali district near Chandigarh on June 15, 2018. .
VS Tanwar, IFS, Senior Chief Forestry Conservator, Haryana, said, “I will ask the government to take note of this day and honor those who sacrificed their lives for the protection of forests and wildlife.
Santosh Kumar, IFS, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Custodian, Goa, said: “Unlike other forces, there is an institutional mechanism to manage the families of martyred officers or personnel, but in forests, there is no such mechanism. Forest officers gave their lives as unknown warriors. In our region, many of our employees have been martyred in recent years and, appallingly, there is no mechanism or institutional policy to deal with the loss of their families.
Rajiv Bhartari, IFS, Senior Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief of Uttarakhand Forestry Forces, said: “In the case of Uttarakhand, we have the MritakAshrit provision for the families of martyred staff when someone gets a use. There are also insurance policies that we often offer in such cases. Still, it is necessary to have a reward system for these unknown warriors.
Dr Abdul Qayum, IFS Assistant, Chandigarh Forestry and Wildlife Department, said: “A strong policy for an adequate compensation and reward mechanism, both at central government and central government level. State, will greatly boost the morale of the Green Warriors at the front, who otherwise struggle. protect natural resources with limited means and in the most difficult situations. Qayum added, “Little by little, things started to improve, all thanks to the CAMPA program. Now we have rest homes in remote areas, now we have started to have sufficient funds under the NPA that we can drive to extreme areas to curb any atrocity. “
Jagannath Singh, IFS and Divisional Forestry Officer, Anantpuram, Andhra Pradesh, said: Educational support for all children, such as scholarships and financial aid. We work in dangerous conditions where smugglers have hacked many resources, our officers died due to wild animal attacks, Naxal attacks, some officers died while fighting summer forest fires .