Smugglers on prowl in Rafiabad, 500 trees cut

Timber being seized by Rafiabad Police.
Timber being seized by Rafiabad Police.

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, Nov 29: Timber smugglers in Rafiabad woods of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district are having a free hand as they have cut at least 500 trees in Kiter Dagi and Mund Dagi forest ranges during past four months of unrest.
Although the total number of trees cut mercilessly by the smugglers could not be quantified but the devastating scenes of forest nearly suffice the scale of loot. Locals living near compartment numbers 29, 40 and 41 that fall under Kiter Dagi and Mund Dagi accused forest officials of being hand-in-glove with the timber smugglers and said the smugglers have taken advantage of the lawlessness that Kashmir witnessed from last four months.
“There was a mass scale cutting of trees for last four months. Timber smugglers are cutting trees in broad day light. No one was able to stop them. Forest officials let everything to happen. There is a nexus between forest officials and timber smugglers,” a local said, adding that the officials are using the tried and tested formula wherein they would deliberately set the forest on fire and then use forest fire as an excuse to cut trees.
In the meanwhile, acting on the complaints received from locals, police today launched a major operation against the illegal felling of trees and seized 54 logs of timber and found nearly 200 chopped trees.
“Today a police team led by SSP Sopore Harmeet Singh conducted a major operation early in the morning at Kiter Dagi and Mond Dazi forests and found the entire forests devastated by timber smugglers. So far we have seized 54 logs, 200 Deodar trees and search for the timber smugglers is underway,” an official said.
A case under FIR number 379 of Forest Act has been registered by police, the official said, adding that the raids were conducted at Mund Dazi, Katerdazi, Doniwar, Pazal pora, Hamam markoot (Compartment no. 29 40, 41) and Chatoosa, Shalkoot, Panzoola, Bosnia areas of Rafiabad.


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