Nagpur farmer drowns, mob claims wild animal attack, demands help from Rs15 lakh

Nagpur: Instigated by local leaders, Dhiwarwada villagers near Koka Wildlife Sanctuary, 70 km from here in the district of Bhandara, created ruckus over the death of a farmer who died as a result of drowning but people wanted it to be considered a victim of a wild animal attack. Kins of the survivor of wild animal attacks get Rs15 lakh according to the GR.

Harishchandra Raut (52), Dhiwarwada, was missing on February 28 when he had gone to his farm to guard the seed, known in local parlance as ‘jagli.’ Raut’s farm is adjacent to the sanctuary and separated by a low, perennial brook.

When Raut did not return home, his wife approached the villagers who began a 29 February search. His body was found in the nullah, which barely had the water of 2-3 feet.

News of Raut’s death spread like wildfire and gathered at the spot a crowd of about 200 men. Some politicians including former Tumsar-born BJP MLA Charan Waghmare, Dhiwarwada sarpanch Dhamdeo Wanve, and others joined them.

When forest officials and police arrived at the spot, villagers led by Zilla Parishad member Sarita Chouragade and Wanve did not allow them to remove Raut’s body and wanted officials to record that his death was due to wild animal attack and that his family would receive compensation according to GR.

The mob vent wrath on Koka RFO Sachin Jadhav who had last arrested Raut for poaching a wild boar in April. Raut was arrested among 11 defendants. The case is still pending in a court in Mohadi. The mob also alleged that Raut had been dissatisfied with the court case, and therefore had to commit suicide.

Nevertheless, the leaders pressured forest and police officials to announce some compensation to the victim’s family, as the mob let loose arousing law and order issue. RFO Jadhav gave Rs15,000 on the humanitarian ground while API Nilesh Waje offered Rs10,000 from its pockets.

The people did not stop at this and placed Raut’s body at Dhiwarwada in front of the forest quarters and pressured the RFO to send it in writing that the victim should receive compensation as per the GR.

Ex-MLA Waghmare said, “Raut’s farm is near the border of the sanctuary, and he died from falling into the nullah after being pursued by wild animals. He will receive compensation for Rs15 lakh, as per GR. The fact was reported in panchnama police. It will be revealed by post-mortem examination.

“Sarpanch Wanve said,” How Raut died is not true. While Raut’s body did not show any major injuries, tigers and leopards are present in the area. There is no explanation he committed suicide. Post-mortem report would reveal the truth.

We checked the body but injury signs were not seen anywhere. There are no eyewitnesses to testify that wild animals have targeted Raut. We are waiting for a post-mortem report. “NNTR officials said,” Every area near the spot has been scanned but there is no direct or indirect evidence of any wild animal including pugmarks, scrape marks or scat. In such cases paying compensation will set a false precedent.’

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