Tiger death: Probe crawling in tracks

Tiger death: Probe crawling in tracks

16 Dec 2008, 0457 hrs IST, Manjari Mishra , TNN

LUCKNOW: At the twilight of his career, Lakhimpur Kheri’s police chief Ram Barose has no clue how to handle this one. The officer has just been handed over the investigation of a hit-and-run case that occurred three months ago. There are no eyewitnesses or survivors. The blind case, his subordinates agree, can baffle the best among them. Though in a refreshing never-say-die spirit, the SP claims “Tafteesh hogi… kab tak kaise bataoon (we will investigate, can’t say when it will conclude) So, it could be a while when the mystery of the adult tiger’s mangled body discovered on the Majhara railway track on September 6, is finally solved.

The accident has already led to much bad blood between UP forest department and Indian Railways after the district forest officer (DFO), Katraniaghat, RK Singh lodged an FIR against five railway employees for violating the prescribed speed limit of 25 km an hour. The complaint named divisional railway manger (NER) Ashima Singh, a 1979 IRS officer, along with the driver of the train (19 Down express), its guard and the station master of Majhra railway station for breaching the Wild Life Protection Act and the Forest Act. “We have done our bit now the ball is in the court of the police department,” the DFO sounded a little uncertain. It has taken the FIR three months four days to cover the distance between Sujauli police station (where it was registered) and Lakhimpur after all.

The SP is slightly more informative. Talking to TOI on Monday, the officer said he had two options – either to file a chargesheet or a final report. “Now what we finally do will depend on the evidence we gather. But what kind of evidence he expected in a case of train running over a tiger in the thick of a jungle in the middle of night three months ago?” The officer merely repeated `tafteesh hogi’, in response.

DFO RK Singh who became the toast of UP forest department after the the FIR drama, has a plan up his sleeves. “We have logged the time when the station reached Bichhia from Tikunia. Once we get the exact time and distance it would only require simple arithmetical calculation to work out the speed. Then there is “watcher” Mohammad Aziz who swears that he saw the train hurting down at the speed of 60 km per hour, he says.

As to how Singh hopes to tackle the railway officials who blast off his theory and Aziz’s testimony remains to be seen. The DRM has on record claimed that the speed restriction of 15 km per hour was not applicable to the stretch where the accident occurred so the provision of act were not attracted.

As the controversy brews, forest department had dashed off a proposal to the railways asking them to regulate trains speed to 15 km an hour at four points of Majhra, Motipur, Katraniaghat bend and Nishangarh. This 30 meters stretch is most vulnerable, explained DFO Singh. According to records, the track has claimed lives of five tigers and three elephants over the past five years. So may be it is time for a little action rather than theatrical?




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