Thiruvananthapuram: A section of officials in the Kerala Forest Department has turned against popular snake-catcher Vava Suresh, citing that he does not have the licence to catch snakes.
They also point out that catching snakes without a licence is an offence that can attract a jail term of 3 to 7 years with a fine, under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Indications are that a group led by one District/Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) is allegedly behind this.
But the forest department is also looking into a complaint that services of snake handlers who were trained by the forest department are not available most of the times.
Vava Suresh, who is an expert in catching snakes, has not yet taken the forest department's licence. Nor has he applied for it.
The officials claim that Vava Suresh's methods for catching snakes are unscientific and that’s why he had suffered snakebite while catching a cobra at Kurichi in Kottayam a fortnight ago.
But Vava Suresh's contention is that he has been catching snakes for over three decades and why should he take a licence for it now. Vava Suresh also alleges that some officials in the forest department are against him.
Officers envy Vava Suresh
Minister V N Vasavan and former minister K B Ganesh Kumar had come out in support of Suresh after he was harshly criticised by some officers.
Lashing out against this, Vasavan said that they were envious of Vava Suresh. He also said that those, who have got training from the Forest Department to catch snakes, do not turn up most of the times when their services are sought.
Ganesh Kumar too said that it was Vava Suresh who taught the Forest Department officials to catch snakes and no official has the right to belittle him.