SADIQABAD-Policemen thrashed a forest range officer after he allegedly caught the former with a tractor-trolley loaded with state-owned timber.

It has been learnt by The Nation that the police have allegedly been involved in logging and sale of state-owned timber under the guise of operation against dacoits. The official sources said that police launched a grand operation against Andhar and Guddashar gangs in Machika which let the dacoits fled away to Kachi of Yunus (woods). The police began logging trees apparently to lasso the dacoits hiding in the jungle. But the logged timber was later transported on 12 tractor-trolleys and sold in violation of the Forest Department laws.

On information, the Forest Department officials impounded a timber-laden tractor-trolley at Bahadurpur check-post. Check-post In-charge Tanvir Shaukat forced the officials to let the vehicle go and on refusal, policemen thrashed range officer Ghulam Abbas and made off with the vehicle.

The Punjab Acting IG Police took notice of the incident and sought report from the RY Khan DPO. The Forest Department has also submitted an application to the Saddr Police but no action could be taken so far.

Range Officer Ghulam Abbas alleged that the police took Shaukat Ali and Khalid Nannha, notorious members of the timber-logging gang, to the woods under its patronage allegedly to have share in profits of the malpractice. He claimed that about 3,000 tonnes of timber has been sold so far. Likewise, the illegal logging and sale of state-owned timber in Sadiqabad has been carried out without let or hindrance allegedly with the connivance of officials of the Forest Department, it has been learnt.

The report of a survey conducted by The Nation reveals that timber mafia has been logging trees across the tehsil, especially along the canals. The survey unveil that mostly the logging is carried out in the dark of night and then the logged timber is sold in the market. The mafia has allegedly connived with officials of the Forest Department to foil any possible action against the malpractice. No other but the officials’ acts ascertain their connivance with the officials as they, several times, have protected big guns in the mafia from police action. Once living hand to mouth, the big guns now own properties worth millions of rupees and travel in luxury cars.

As far as environmental effects of the tree logging are concerned, the practice has given rise to pollution in the tehsil and besides, it has also weakened banks of the canals.

Citizens including Mujahid Bashir, Shahid, Khalid Fareedi, Nauman, Shabir, Waqas, Hadayat Ali and Zafar Iqbal demanded Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, forest minister and the district administration to look into the grave situation and take effective steps to curb the malpractice.