A heavy exchange of fire took place between suspected timber smugglers and Assam forest personnel inside Dehing-Patkai National Park, an official said on Thursday.
One of the suspected smugglers was critically injured in the gunfight, he said.
The Assam forest personnel received information that a group of timber smugglers from neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh had entered the national park to cut trees with machines on Monday, and upon hearing the sound of electric woodcutters, a search operation was launched, the official said.
The miscreants allegedly opened fire on the forest personnel and a gunfight ensued, leading to the injury of one person from Arunachal Pradesh at Bashabnala, he said.
"We have come to know that one timber smuggler was seriously injured during the firing. The incident occurred at Bashabnala, which is a few kilometres away from the Arunachal Pradesh border,” Namrup Divisional Forest Officer B V Sandeep told media.
However, the North East Human Rights Organisation (NEHRO) in the neighbouring state has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), claiming that the person was shot dead by members of the Assam Forest Battalion in Dibrugarh district.
NEHRO also alleged misuse of power and unwarranted use of force by the battalion. The body of the person with multiple bullet injuries was found on Monday near the forest areas of Hukanjuri, close to the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border, it said in the complaint.
Asked about the claims, Sandeep said: "We cannot confirm the death of the smuggler because the group had taken him along with it. All we know is that he was seriously injured. Many plywood factories have been set up on the Arunachal side and the smugglers had entered the national park to cut down trees.”
NEHRO added that the man was actually searching for his missing domestic cow within the reserved forest area. Buteng Tayeng, the secretary of the organisation, has urged the NHRC to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, Tirap Deputy Commissioner Hento Karga said the relatives of the deceased have lodged FIRs with both the Arunachal Pradesh Police and Assam Police.
A magisterial inquiry into the matter has also been ordered by the Dibrugarh district commissioner, officials said.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today