Man killed for fighting timber smuggling
Cops Confirm Involvement Of Smugglers
Budgam, June 27: There is a gruesome crime that a village in this central Kashmir district has just experienced, rendering the villagers shocked. It is the killing of Sanaullah Zargar, whose mission to protect the Valley’s green gold ended up in his killing.
According to the villagers of Basant Woddar in Khansahib constituency, Zargar fell to the “ruthless beating by timber smuggling mafia and some officials of the Forest Department” in the Arizal area of Budgam on June 21—an angle which the police is “mainly investigating.”
“He had made it a mission to protect the forests in Budgam. He would vehemently oppose timber smuggling and resist any such malpractice,” says Nazir Ahmad (name changed), a resident of Basant Woddar. “He used to report instances of timber smuggling to the officers in the Forest Department. This was not liked by the timber smuggling mafia in the district, which has been on rampage to loot the green gold.”
For over a year, Sanaullah Zargar alias Sona Zargar was working in Sukhnag Forest Range in Arizal. “By dint of his conviction, he curbed timber smuggling in the area to a great extent. He had volunteered for the mission of protecting the environment,” Ahmad, who is a relative of Zargar, says. “This conviction led to his association with the Forest Department as a contingency worker.”
The Arizal residents mince no words in blaming the timber mafia for Zargar’s killing. “There were marks of injury on his head. He was apparently beaten to pulp with some blunt object,” said a group of residents, insisting not to be named. “Nobody is investigating the real story.
You just cannot rule out the involvement of some Forest Department officials in the killing who happen to be working in league with the timber mafia. The case is being deliberately down played to shield the culprits.”
Zargar’s body was recovered from a Water Mill (Chakki) near Nallah Sukhnag. He is survived by his 28-year-old wife, Saleema, and four children aged seven, five, four and two.
“So far people in Kashmir would die of conflict and road accidents. But now it seems greed is making us kill each other,” the residents said. “Such gruesome crimes would never happen in Kashmir in the past. And it is time for police to investigate the case sincerely and seriously to bring the real culprits to book,” a local resident said.
Locals say some senior politicians in the district are “directly involved” in timber smuggling. “They (politicians) are encouraging timber smuggling in forest areas of Budgam. With the result, everyone seems to be helpless. Sometime back the Forest Minister intervened to end the malpractice, but he too gave up afterwards,” said Ghulam Qadir, a resident of Budgam. “The Government must take the issue seriously and ensure that the law enforcement agencies and officials do their job sincerely rather than succumbing to the pressure from politicians.”
“We are mainly investigating the timber mafia angle of the killing,” said the Superintendent of Police, Budgam, Uttam Chand. “Once the investigation is complete, we will share the details with you,” he told Greater Kashmir.
The Station House Officer of Khansahib Police Station, Asif Iqbal, said: “We have ascertained that timber smugglers are involved in Zargar’s killing. We have identified the accused and are likely to make the arrests in a few days.”
Iqbal said police is investigating all angles of the case. “It is just 5th day of investigation. We are examining all the angles, including the alleged involvement of Forest Department officials. But for now, we are certain that timber smugglers are involved in the case,” he said.
Zargar’s killing has triggered a debate on the social networking site, Facebook, where the SHO says they have cracked the case. “We have cracked the case and soon you will know everything about it. But this is not the right medium to discuss it, Yes he was a forest lover and this proved fatal for him,” the SHO writes in response to a post.
In another post, he says, “FIR stands lodged and culprits have been identified. Yes some have been arrested and others will be arrested soon. It is the job of court to punish the culprits.”
Police sources in the district said the cops were gathering evidence against the accused timber smugglers to make the case fool-proof.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 27 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 27 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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