Pulwama : Around 18 persons including five journalists , ten forest officials and three Gujjar community members were wounded on Monday after the forest eviction drive launched by the Forest department turned violent in the woods of Zampathri area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district.
The eviction drive started by the forest department in the upper reaches of Zampathri area turned violent after the Gujjar community resisted the drive.
Journalist Aijaz Ahmad Dar, while speaking with The News Idea said “we were just performing our professional duties but some Gujjar community members while having scuffle with forest officials start beating media persons also. The five media persons present on the spot received multiple injuries with ripped clothes.
The journalists who received multiple injuries include Aijaz Ahmad Dar (Zee news), Irshad Ahmad (News18), Shahid Tak (ETV Bharat), Nazir Wani (Punjab Kesari) and Firdous Ahmad (News Nation).
According to a report of news agency Kashmir News Observer (KNO), people from Gujjar community said that they aren’t the permanent residents of the area, saying they have been erecting temporary sheds here for living to graze the cattle.
Gujjar community members also allege that without serving any notice, the forest department officials reached the spot and started an eviction drive. We have insisted to the officials that we leave the area every year and there was no need to evict us.
The officials started beating them with whatever came in their way and injured three among them including two women, they alleged, saying that instead of extending helping hand to the people amid the pandemic, the government is pushing them to the wall. They urged the government higher ups to look into the matter.
While speaking with forest officials they allege that that once the eviction drive was started, the people from the whole Gujjar community assembled and made officials as well as journalists hostage in a fenced area of PHE and were not allowing us to come out.
Forest officials also claim that at least 10 forest employees and five journalists were injured during the resistance by the Gujjar community.