As many as 70 tribals were on Wednesday arrested after they tried to forcefully take possession of reserved forest lands in three villages in Gujarat's Panchmahal district, officials said. The tribals allegedly attacked forest department officials when they resisted their attempt Tuesday night, leaving some of them injured, they said.
Panchmahal Superintendent of Police Leena Patil said tribals from nearby areas gathered at these villages in Godhra taluka and tried to take possession of the forest lands after they were "misled" into believing the lands were being given to them by the state government. "Hundreds of tribals were misled by dam displaced people already living in these villages into believing that the government was giving out lands for them to live so they rushed to take its possession.
"When confronted by forest department officials, they attacked them, following which they were detained, Patil said. Later, 70 tribals were arrested under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) pertaining to rioting and obstructing government officials, among others, she said.
Assistant Conservator of Forest R B Jadeja said a team from the forest department rushed to the villages after they were informed by the locals about the action of adivasis. A group of tribals tried to forcibly take possession of around 2,000 hectares of land in the villages of Kaliya, Vavchhabdipura and Samali, he said.
The team rushed to the villages along with police and its members came under attack from the tribals, injuring some personnel, Jadeja said. Despite this, around 350 tribals, armed with sharp weapons and bows and arrows, assembled in the reserved forest areas of the villages and demanded that the lands be handed over to them for cultivation, he added.
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