Forest officials of Unai range in Tapi district detained eight tribal youths and stripped them for allegedly hunting birds like sparrows, mynahs and pigeons on Tuesday. The eight youths, who had to spend the whole night in detention in their underpants, were released on Wednesday after each of them paid a penalty of Rs 1,000.

Range Forest Officer Raghuveersingh Kosada justified the officials’ action on the tribals youths, saying, “the purpose of stripping them was to help them understand the importance of birds as it is also living beings and they should not be killed”.

Kosada said the sarpanch of Pati village, from where the eight youths hail, have been warned against any more such activities. “We have strictly told the village sarpanch and parents of those arrested that such activities of killing birds will not be entertained,” the Forest Officer said.

Defending the youths’ action , village sarpanch Dilkhush Gamit said: “There is a general tradition that the village youths go into the forest and kill birds and cook a meal of it. Our village youngsters had not killed peacock or any other animal. They were just sparrows, mynahs and pigeons. This kind of punishment of stripping them is new to us. We all illiterate and afraid of them (officials), so we cannot do anything against them.”

One of the arrested youth’s father called the forest officials action “harsh”. “My son helps me in the agricultural field, and during night he left home to meet his friends. It is quite routine that youths go to forest and hunt birds. It’s the tradition of our tribal community. To make our children naked and detain them for whole night in the forest office is a harsh punishment. Till now, no forest officer resorted to such an action,” the father said.

According to forest officials, they received a complaint about youths of Pati village in Dolvan taluka hunting birds and cooking their meat inside the forest. Acting on it, the forest officials carried out night patrolling on Tuesday when they detained eight youths. On frisking, officials claimed, they recovered a catapult and carcasses of pigeons, mynahs and sparrows from their bags. They were brought to Unai Range forest office and booked under Wildlife Protection Act before they were stripped to their underwear.


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