A former contract employee of the Forest department has been arrested in connection with the forest fire at Nagarahole National Park, which reduced more than 120 hectares of the forest area, into cinders.
The arrested, J R Vinu, a resident of Pattekere in Virajpet taluk of Kodagu district, was working as a kaavadi, before he was dismissed from service.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Shivalingaiah, PSI at Ponnampet police station where the forest fire case has been registered, said the accused had admitted to the crime. “During interrogation, he had stated that he ignited the fire to avenge his dismissal from service.”
Vinu allegedly set fire near a lake close to Titimathi elephant camp, which escalated, causing severe damage to the National Park. According to the police, Vinu did not have any accomplice. However, sources in the Forest department have raised doubts about the arrest, claiming that the massive fire could not be the handiwork of a single person.
“Looking at the fire, it is evident that more than one person was behind the act,” sources added.
No arrests so far
Meanwhile, a case has been registered regarding the fire at the Bandipur National Park. No arrests have been made yet. Five tribals have been booked for the incident. Official sources said the arrests have been delayed fearing “retaliatory fires.”
“Since bamboo bushes in the forests have dried up, it is easy to set the forest on fire. We will wait till Ugadi to nab the culprits,” they added. As per the estimate, a total of 471 hectares of forest area have been gutted in the fire mishap.