Another Forest Dept official suspended for fabricating case against tribal youth

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As per the complaint officer Rahul had falsely accused Sarun Saji of carrying the meat of a wild animal in his autorickshaw. Photo: Manorama Online.

Kattappana: A Wildlife Warden in Idukki has been suspended from service for falsely implicating a tribal youth in a case.

The suspended officer is B Rahul. As per the complaint he had falsely accused Sarun Saji (24) of carrying the meat of a wild animal in his autorickshaw.

The latter's hopes of landing a government job were nearly dashed despite clearing tests of the Public Service Commission as he was targeted by a few employees of the Forest Department last month.

Saji was arrested by Forest Department officials on October 20. Soon after the arrest, Sarun’s parents — Saji and Nirmala — launched a hunger strike seeking justice for their son.

Forest officials had seized the banned meat from the premises of another person and had made our son a scapegoat, they claimed.

The family belongs to Puthanpurakkal House of Upputhara Panchayat of Idukki district.

After five days of their stir, the government intervened and realising that the case was fabricated suspended six officials – Kizhukanam section forest officer Anil Kumar; beat forest officers V C Lenin and N R Mohanan; driver Jimmy Joseph; and watchers K N Mohanan and K T Jayakumar.

Rahul, who was the Wildlife Warden, was transferred to the Forest Headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram.

Subsequently, the Forest Vigilance conducted an inquiry and submitted a report based on which Rahul was served the suspension orders. The report pointed out that there were several lapses in the ‘mahazar’ prepared by the Forest Department officials, which Rahul had overlooked. Moreover, he had allowed the subordinate officers to arrest Sarun and proceed with the case without authenticating their claims.

Sarun on two PSC lists
Meanwhile, the family’s plea to withdraw the case against Sarun is yet to be heard by the government even when the Forest Minister himself has admitted that the case was fabricated.

Sarun had succeeded in earning a college degree despite a hard struggle since childhood. His father is a mason while his mother earns some money by engaging in Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme work. Their house is located at Mulla, a remote village with little transportation facilities.

Sarun had to walk long distances every day to reach school and college.

After passing Class 10 from Government Tribal School, Kannampady, Sarun cleared Plus Two (Class 12) from St Philomena’s School, Upputhara, and B Com from Government College, Kattappana.

His name is now included in two recruitment lists of the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) and he is eligible for a government job. However, the Forest Department case could deprive Sarun of a government appointment. 

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