Bhabua: A brutal assault on a forest officer and his driver took place on Monday evening in the Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary, Bihar, following the foiling of a vehicle loaded with Mahua flowers, which are employed in the production of banned liquor. The case emerged when a forester, Kunal Kumar, and his driver, Raj Kumar, saw a pick-up truck laden with Mahua flowers at Bhabua-Adhaura on Garhake village road. Acting on their duty to curb illegal activities, the forest team chased and successfully halted the vehicle near the Adhaura bus stand at around 7:15 pm.

As reported by Kaimur DFO Chanchal Prakasham, the truck was used by a notorious gang of criminals referred to as the Khan brothers, who are locals. The members of the gang are Sagir Khan of F-Block, Meera Punjab House, his three sons Ayub, Mahmood, and Maqsood, his nephew Naga Khan and another accomplice Suhail Alam, killed Kunal Kumar and Raj Kumar with iron rods, causing grievous head injuries. They were rushed to the Benaras Hindu University Trauma Centre in Varanasi at Bhabua, 100 km from the district.

According to Prakasham, the following statement Kunal Kumar gave to the police, the former and latter were heading towards the Bhabua divisional office when they saw the said truck. The next stop resulted in a fight, as you can see from the following illustration. This is because the point illustrates the constant fight against illegitimate operations in the area, including the use of Mahua flowers by various crime rings.

These syndicates procure mahua at discounted prices from the tribals living within the sanctuary and then sell the same to the illicit breweries in the adjoining state of Uttar Pradesh. Further, they transport the country-made liquor to Bihar, where it is under high demand due to prohibition laws that were passed in the year 2016 that prohibited the manufacture, sale, and consumption of legal liquid.

Wildlife activist Om Prakash Pandey criticized this move, claiming that the forest mafia in Bihar has political backing from a leader from the ruling alliance.

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