Eyewitness in Similipal elephant burning forced to drink poison: Deceased’s wife

Jashipur: Amid investigation into death of an elephant at Similipal National Park in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, wife of a deceased forest staff, who was the eyewitness in elephant carcass burning incident, brought serious allegations against three accused forest personnel.

Two months after death of the Turam Purti, his wife Chilam Purti filed a written complaint with the police alleging that her husband was poisoned to death.

Even though the Forest Department had reprimanded its staff not to reveal the fact about the incident, the senior officials had raised doubt on Turam Purti, who was a daily labourer in the department, after involvement of some forest officials in elephant carcass burning case came to fore.

Allegedly, Turam was assaulted physically and humiliated mentally by the forest officials. He was forced to consume poison. After he fell unconscious, he was first admitted to the Jashipur Community Health Centre, then shifted to Karanjia Sub-Divisional Hospital. When his health condition deteriorated, he was taken to the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack where he breathed his last on December 15 last year.

Just before his death at the SCB hospital, Turam had revealed to his wife that he was severely beaten up and poisoned. Further, the accused forest officials were talking about disposing the body at a nearby forest in Thakurmunda while she was returning home from Cuttack with her deceased husband. When she resisted, the forest officials misbehaved with her and threatened her, the complainant alleged holding three forest officials — Shiba Shankar Samal, Jenabil Range forester-in-charge; Chandrabhanu Behera, forester of Gurandia section; and Binod Kumar Das, forest guard of Special Tiger Protection Force — responsible for death of her husband.

Chilam Purti, who is the mother of three children, mentioned in the complaint that her life has been devastated following death of her husband. She demanded stricter punishment for three accused forest officials following a proper probe.

Based on the complaint, a case has been registered against three accused forest personnel, informed Jashipur Police Station Sub-Inspector Hemamilini Swain.

The statement of the complainant has been recorded. Presently, the trio is in judicial custody. They will be brought on remand for investigation in the forest staff’s death case, she added.

Worth mentioning that Turam Purti (20), who was believed to have witnessed burning of tusker carcass in Jenabil forest range of Similipal National Park, had consumed poison after allegedly being threatened by senior officials involved in tusker poaching case. He succumbed under treatment at the SCB hospital in Cuttack.

Reportedly, the forest officials trio had threatened the staff not to divulge information failing which he would face dire consequence. After the incident was leaked in media, Turam was forced to commit suicide. He consumed poison on December 11 and died after four days.

A day before his death i.e on December 14, the three accused forest officials were arrested for allegedly trying to cover up the elephant poaching case. The Forest Department had suspended the trio on December 11 over allegations that they burnt the carcass of an elephant and threw off the remnants in a river.

According to reports, a tusker was killed by some poachers near Bakua village in Jenabil range of the Similipal Tiger Reserve on December 7 and its tusk removed. Following the incident, the officials of the forest range burnt the carcass and threw off the burnt bones in the nearby Deo river.

The incident triggered massive public outrage after the involvement of forest personnel came to fore.

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