Forest officials beaten up by villagers in Telangana

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Hyderabad, Apr 12 (PTI): A group of villagers, mostly women, on Monday allegedly thrashed a forest beat officer after tying him to a tree following a dispute over 'Podu' cultivation, police said.

The attack on the beat officer and two other officials took place in Bhadradri Kothagudem district of Telangana, the police said.

The incident happened in a forest area where trenching was being taken up to protect the forest, they said.

A video showing some people, mostly women, arguing with some forest staff and tying one of them to a tree and allegedly beating him was broadcast by local TV channels.

Police, after getting information about the attack, rushed to the spot and rescued the forest officials.

The group comprising around 25-30 villagers, mostly women, who claimed ownership of the land allegedly beat up the three officials when they visited the place to make arrangements as part of the district forest officer's (DFO's) proposed inspection of the site, the beat officer told TV channels.

One group of villagers had reportedly agreed for the trenching work on their 'Podu' lands while another was opposed to it.

Based on a complaint by the forest staff, a case on charge of unlawful assembly, obstructing government officials from discharging their duty, confinement, criminal intimidation under relevant IPC sections has been registered against the group, a police official said.

Podu cultivation is a form of shifting cultivation using slash and burn methods. This has been a bone of contention with forest officials trying to enforce law in forest areas and those involved in such cultivation resisting it.