HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
TAULIHAWA: Police torched hundreds of illegal huts erected by those who called themselves squatters in the Kopawa forest area of Bageshwori community forest today.
A joint team of police and security forces from the district forest office of Kapilvastu torched 390 huts after chasing away the ‘encroachers’ from there about 8:30 in the morning.
Police also detained Squatters Landless Development Forum Chairperson Khageswor Khanal, Secretary Bhuwaneshwor Tharu, Bishnu Chhetri and Lotan Tharu who were later handed over to the Pipara Area Police Office.
As many as 200 squatters received minor injuries during the clash with the police and a huge amount of property was gutted, Janak KC, a squatter, said.
“We had settled here at the behest of some political parties’ leaders and the SLDF,” said Bimala Bote whose hut was also destroyed today. “It’s been hardly one month since we came here hearing that the government had separated this place for the squatters, but with the police action today we are left in the lurch,” lamented Om Prakash Chaudhary.
Bageshwori community forest chairperson Kalu Tharu, however, described today’s act as necessary, saying fake squatters had begun occupying the forest land.
“First a herd of the people from Dang and Rolpa came and settled here about two months ago and later, others too began flocking in from other places, we had no option,” he clarified.
District Forest Officer Krishna Prasad Pokhrel confirmed that the illegal huts sprawling in about 50 hectares of land along the western bank of the Banaganga River on the border of Jayanagar and Kopawa VDCs were torched.