Timber smuggler apologizes to evade PSA
Police, Admn Offers Olive Branch In Ramadan
Srinagar, Aug 12: “I swear by Almighty Allah that I would never resort to timber smuggling again. And if I am found involved in the illegal activity anymore, I deserve to be punished severely.” These were the words of a timber smuggler in South Kashmir’s Shopian district as he read out his “apology note” in a local Masjid on Friday. Reason: to evade arrest under the Public Safety Act.
A day before he was expected to be arrested under the PSA, timber smuggler Riyaz Ahmad Wani of Rakh Narspora Shopian publicly apologized “for being involved in timber smuggling over the years.” “I took to timber smuggling due to poverty and because of bad company of some persons. But I now want to give up this illegal practice, once and for all. I swear by Almighty Allah that from now onwards, I will not resort to timber smuggling again and would live life of a law-abiding citizen,” Wani writes in the note of apology. “I therefore request the Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Superintendent of Police and Divisional Forest Officer to accept my apology. I assure them that they won’t find me involved in the illegal practice again.”
The apology is reminiscent of 1990s when “informers” would tender public apology.
Wani’s apology comes in the backdrop of a drive by the Forest Department in Shopian to get timber smugglers surrendered in the month of holy month of Ramadan. “Wani was supposed to be arrested under PSA. But since he has tendered a public apology for being involved in timber smuggling and vowed to be a law-abiding citizen henceforth, we can consider not slapping the Act against him,” said Himayun Kabir Qadri, Divisional Forest Officer Shopian.
“The Police and Forest Department have jointly launched this drive to ensure surrender of timber smugglers. We are expecting some more people to tender public apology. If they fail to do so, we shall be constrained to book them under PSA.”
Wani, according to officials, stood at No. 2 in the list of 25 timber smugglers wanted in the Shopian and Pulwama districts and there are at least seven FIRs pending against him. “In Ramadan, timber smugglers are seen getting active especially when people happen to offer Taraveeh (night prayers) and during Sehri (pre-dawn meals time). So to curb the practice, we decided to launch a massive crackdown on the timber smugglers and also give a chance of evading PSA whoever wishes to tender public apology,” Wani told Greater Kashmir.
It is widely believed that the smugglers have caused considerable damage to the Forests in Shopian, especially in the Karewa areas. Now, according to officials, they are targeting the Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary, along the historic Mughal Road, in the district.
The Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf, says that if timber smugglers surrender in real sense, the government shall not slap PSA on them. “And we can also consider them for some kind of rehabilitation. We have already rehabilitated some smugglers in Shopian after they tendered public apology. We don’t want to impose PSA on anyone as a matter of choice. We are giving smugglers a chance to give up the illegal practice. But if they don’t respond positively, law will take its own course,” he told Greater Kashmir.
According to officials, the Government of J&K must frame a comprehensive rehabilitation policy for timber smugglers. “In Government of India, there is a full-fledged policy for forest dwellers. The state government can take a cue from it to protect the green gold in the state,” said an officer in the Forest Department.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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