The deputy director of Dhudwa Tiger Reserve (DTR core) has been booked by cops for allegedly sexually assaulting a Tharu woman in the Gaurifanta area of Lakhimpur Kheri district.
Manoj Sonkar, the deputy director and an IFS officer, had recently prohibited the Tharu community members from entering in the DTR core area. Thereafter, he reportedly also took action against a few tribe members for violating the law, as reported by TOI.
DTR field director, Sanjay Pathak stated that the tribe members must have filed the case as a counter to the action taken by Sonkar. He quoted:
The FIR seems to be a result of Sonkar’s honestly performing his duty and protecting the flora and fauna of the reserve. He is regarded as one of the most efficient forest officers in the country.
According to a source close to DTR, the department had recently arrested a tribal man who had sent the community members on a rampage, and they attacked the forest teams. Subsequently, both parties had lodged complaints against each other.
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Pathak was distressed over the situation and said,
We are extremely disappointed. A Grade 1 officer has been booked for honestly performing his duty. SHO Ramesh Chandra Yadav was present on the spot when Tharu Tribe members had attacked Sonkar and his team.
Pathak also questioned,
Now, the SHO has registered an FIR of sexual harassment against Sonkar, which is beyond our understanding. How we will protect the forest if such actions are taken against us without an investigation?
Adding further the field director said,
In case of a complaint against an IFS officer, a senior police officer should have probed the matter before ordering an FIR.
The SHO on the other hand informed TOI,
I acted on the instruction of circle officer Kuldeep Kukreti and registered an FIR under section 354 (assault to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 504 (intentional insult) and 506 (criminal intimidation). Sonkar has also been charged for relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
I received verbal instructions from my senior officer and following his instruction is my duty, so I ordered an FIR.