Gujarat: 11 detained for illegally entering Gir forest
The Indian Express
The forest department on Sunday detained 11 persons for allegedly illegally entering the Babariya range of Gir (West) division forest in Gir Somnath district. According to forest officials, the incident took place at around 5 pm on Sunday, when during a routine patrolling, 11 men were spotted trekking in the jurisdiction of Thoradi, a revenue-cum-forest-settlement village.
"We detained and questioned them and concluded that they had inadvertently entered the protected forest area. They pleaded that they did not know that entering the area constituted an offence. Their offence was compounded and they were released," said Rajan Jadav, range forest officer (RFO) of Babariya range.
"They were a bunch of kids aged between 18 and 22. They were visiting a friend's place in Thoradi. They went out for a walk and entered the protected forest area," Jadav further said. The trespassing has been reported a month-and-a-half after seven men were arrested for luring Asiatic lions with chicken by entering the the same forest area. The forest department had arrested the seven men after videos of them harassing the lions went viral on social media.
The seven had allegedly organised a lion show which had also prompted the Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava and forest officers to visit Gir forest and assure the public that the endangered species were safe. Meanwhile, Jadav said the 11 were booked under Section 27 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act which deals with illegal entry in protected forest area. "Since the incident of Dhubak, we have turned Babariya range into a fortress and vigil is extremely high," he said, adding that they had not entered the forest for "staging a lion show".