Praveen Joseph, a local CPI secretary from Mankulam, threatened to beat up a Range Forest Officer in public.
A Communist Party of India (CPI) local secretary from Mankulam in Kerala’s Idukki district was booked for threatening and abusing a group of forest officials on Tuesday. The Munnar police have filed a case against Praveen Joseph, the local leader. A video of the politician shouting at the officers was doing the rounds on social media. In the video, Praveen is heard threatening one of the officers that he would tie him up and beat him up on the streets. “We’ll beat you up, this is the word of a CPI local secretary. That’s why I didn’t get you transferred, I’m keeping you here just to beat you up,” Praveen is seen shouting at the Mankulam Range Forest Officer (RFO) Udaya Suryan in the video. Praveen had earlier abused forest officials of the Anakkkulam range and has a case against him at the same police station. “We have a shed in the forest area near Bungalow Thara in Mankulam. A few weeks ago, we dug a three-metre-deep trench to keep wild animals away from the camp. Then this person (Praveen) came and created problems saying that the land was for giving to landless people. He gave a complaint to the District Collector. Following this, Revenue officials visited the site, they were convinced that his complaints were fake. That’s when he got angry and started shouting at us,” RFO Udaya Suryan told TNM. The RFO alleged that the local leader was creating problems for two reasons: one, to get mileage in the upcoming panchayat elections and second, because he has links with the land grabbing mafia. “Earlier around 140 land grabbers had filed a case against the Forest department and we won the case in High Court. This Bungalow Thara area is a spot that these grabbers have an eye on. So, all these issues can be linked together,” the officer said. Speaking to TNM, Praveen Joseph said, “The trench was constructed on revenue land, there is a danger of landslides due to the construction. As part of the joint verification, Revenue officials confirmed that the construction was done on revenue land. But the forest official opposed this and refused to sign the joint verification form. That was when I lashed out like that.” The Devikulam tehsildar told TNM, “As per the resurvey records, the trench included revenue land. The taluk surveyor will submit a report to me and then I’ll submit a detailed report to the Idukki District Collector. The Collector will then take a final decision on the issue.”