Friday, June 11, 2010

Goa Forest department pressure Tulsidas Velip to backtrack on Tiger claims to Prime Minister

Three member team from Goa's Forest Department on June 9, 2010 evening visited residence of Tulsidas Velip and exerted pressure on him to backtrack on tiger claims he made in his letter to Prime Minister of India on March 30, 2010.

The officials first visited his family in forest village of Cavrem, Quepem and threatened his family. Then after contacting him over the mobile met Tulsidas Velip and took him to the venue in nearby forest where Tulsidas claimed tiger visit in March 2010. After reaching the place forest officials tried their level best to convince Tulsidas that it was not a tiger but some other animal like Leopard or the Cawrem villagers themselves have killed the Bison and wanted Tulsidas to sign on statement forest officers had prepared. Tulsidas replied to them in forest that since the statement is in English he is not able to understand it and would like his lawyer to have a reading about it. Forest department officers got infuriated and threatened Tulsidas Velip of dire consequences. Tulsidas refused to sign on statement till the end and asked them the copy of draft to so that it can be shown to a lawyer. Officers refused and after that told Tulsidas that they are going to call him to the forest department office in Canacona over the phone to sign the statement anytime within next few days and he has to oblige. Two officer's names are unknown while the third one is Babani Naik.

The game plan of forest offcials is clear: deny that tiger visits Cavrem forest so that mining companies can be gifted forest lands. Goa Forest department is notorious for their with mining companies and Tiger is giant thorn on their way. Draft Goa Regional Plan 2021 even has a list of mining companies who are given forest land in Goa for mining companies. Mining companies and Forest department have ongoing honeymoon in this relationship. Threat to Tulsidas Velip is clear additional proof in this regard.

The text of letter that Tulsidas Velip wrote to Prime Minster of India is available on the links below:

The behavior of Goa's Forest department well deserves all round condemnation.

Sebastian Rodrigues

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