West Singhbhum: There was no gun fire or tear gas required to drive the mafias out of the Sarnda forest. Mere sticks and a collective effort of the villagers did wonders.

The villagers around the Saranda forest in the district have launched a campaign against the mafia, who are outsiders and have settled in the region for illegal trade in valuable forest wealth.

The modus operandi of the mafias was very methodical in nature. First they build slums to stay in the village for a longer period and then in collusion with the white collar timber mafia groups, they cut thousands of trees.

A vast stretch of forest land was converted into fields due to illegal deforestation.

Having been irked by the trade, the villagers gave them an ultimatum of one week to leave the area. With their warning falling on deaf ears, the villagers passed a resolution to drive these traders put of the forest forcibly.

Armed with lathis and sickles, the villagers forced them (mafia) to leave the place.

When contacted the local forest officer AK Minz said that number of such complaints have increased after land rights were granted to tribal living in the region for decades. “Action would be taken against people involved in illegal deforestation,” he asserted.

While the administration takes the official line, the villagers have vowed to fight people encroaching on the forest wealth on their own.

(JPN/ Bureau)