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Udalguri: A 40-year-old woodcutter was killed and another one injured when forest guards opened fire on them in the Khalingduar Reserve Forest in Assam’s Udalguri district.

According to reports, a routine patrolling team of forest officials on Wednesday noticed a group of persons suspected to be woodcutters in the forest and fired two rounds resulting in the death a woodcutter.

The deceased has been identified as Ram Singh Gorh, an employee of Nonaipara Tea Estate in Udalguri.

The injured wood cutter, identified as Sukra Bakhla, 46, was admitted to Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) in Guwahati on Thursday.

“We have recovered an axe, wood logs and two beaks of hornbill from the spot,” said Ranger of Nonai Forest Range, Netra Kamal Saikia.

He said that following the firing incident, a police team led by Udalguri district Additional SP Jyoti Prasad Pegu and SSB troops visited the spot and recovered the body of the woodcutter.

He was rushed to Tangla Community Health Centre, where the doctors declared him ‘brought dead’.

ASP Jyoti Prasad Pegu said, “There was a firing incident where the forest patrolling party opened fire and a suspected woodcutter was found dead inside Khalingduar Reserve Forest in Nonaikhuti area.”

“We are waiting for the post-mortem report to ascertain the cause of the death of the person,” he added.

The incident has sparked strong resentment among the villagers of the area, as tea garden workers and villagers often collect wood from the forest.

“The forest officials along with police recovered the body from the forest without any intimation to the village head or VDP Secretary,” said Deep Tanti, president of the Udalguri district unit of Assam Tea Tribes Students Association (ATTSA).

He further claimed that the other injured person, Sukra Bagla was lying in a pool of blood the whole night in the forest, and only after the intervention of the local students’ body and VCDC members, police and forest officials rescued him from the forest on Thursday morning.

Another villager identified as Bijoy Koya, 25, who was part of the group of villagers collecting wood is reportedly untraceable following the incident.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com