A Forest Department officer deputed to check sand mafia operations was intentionally run over and killed by a tractor-trolley laden with illegally mined sand in Madhya Pradesh's Morena on Friday morning. Subedar Singh Kushwaha, a deputy forest ranger, was stationed at a check post on National Highway 3, along with other Forest Department staffers, to check illegal excavation of sand from the Chambal riverbed.
"The 50-year-old officer was killed at around 8 am when he was inspecting vehicles coming from the riverside. The tractor driver, who is yet to be identified, fled the spot along with the vehicle after knocking down Kushwaha", district Superintendent of Police (SP) Amit Sanghi said.
Subedar Singh Kushwaha was trying to intercept a tractor-trolley laden with illegally mined sand when another one intentionally mowed him down from behind. Both vehicles managed to flee from the spot.
He also informed that after police were scanning footage from CCTV cameras installed near the forest outpost to track the killer.
"We have charged the unidentified accused with murder, and further investigations are on," Sanghi said.
Sand mafia is said to be active in the region. Its members excavate sand from the Chambal riverbed, posing a threat to a population of gharials, an endangered species of fish-eating crocodiles found in the river. The SP said the Chambal riverbed in the district came under the jurisdiction of the National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan took to Twitter and paid his tribute. He also announced a compensation of 1 crore rupee to the family.
According to forest officials, the Madhya Pradesh High Court in the past had directed the Forest Department to check illegal mining of sand from the river as it poses a threat to the gharial population.
Due to illegal mining, eggs laid by gharials in sand get damaged, they added.