Kendrapara, Oct 20:
Eighteen people were on Sunday arrested in connection with torching of Gahirmatha forest range office in Kendrapara district following death of a person by a wild boar, police said.
A mob comprising over 700 people had gone on rampage at Sasanapeta village following the incident and a three-storeyed range office was set ablaze. Two motorized boats and a jeep of forest department were also burnt by the angry people.
Inspector of Mahakalpada police station Padarabinda Tripathy said “as the Forest department had launched a massive crackdown on unlawful fishing by arresting over 300 sea going fishermen last year, it had angered the people.
Besides, forest encroachers had been evicted and cases lodged against them. A section of marine fishermen with history of crime initiated the acts of vandalism and driven by mob psychology, some locals had followed their suite,” he said.
The 18 people were arrested and booked under various sections of IPC and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
They were produced before the court of Sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM), Kendrapara which rejected their bail applications. They were remanded in the jail custody, police said.
Cases were registered against 500 people of whom 60 identified as principal trouble makers. Among the principal accused persons, seven women are absconding.
“The miscreants had also snatched away a service revolver of a forest officer. We are on the lookout for its recovery” Tripathy said.
Extensive damage was caused to the forest department property and the damage was to the tune of Rs one crore, said forest officials.(PTI)