Maoists felling, selling trees of civilians

Siraha, March 10:

The Maoists are on a tree-felling spree and selling the felled ones. The trees belong to civilians.

Victims said the Maoists started felling the trees the day before yesterday. They also felled fruit and medicinal foliage trees planted on 62 bigha of land registered in the name of three persons at Bishnupur-4 and Dhangadhi-6.

Maoist cadres led by Siraha Area-2 in-charge Jeetendra Singh felled the trees planted on 62 bigha of land belonging to Subas Saraf (40 bigha), Sunil Chandra Tamrakar (13 bigha) and Sudarshan Shrestha (9 bigha).

Saraf said the Maoists felled 75 per cent of the trees including mango, jackfruit, guava, litchi which were planted on 40 bigha of land at Bishnupur-4 and Dhangadhi-6 in 1991.

“I was planning to establish a sugar mill, a medicinal herbs production centre and a plywood factory after selling the trees. However, the Maoists have put paid to all my plans,” Saraf bemoaned.

Though there were sissoo trees worth Rs 25 crore on Saraf’s land, the Maoists sold the trees for Rs 13 lakh, sources said. The Maoists are also felling trees planted on 25 bigha of land belonging to Sudarshan Krishna Shrestha and Sunil Chandra Tamrakar.

Asked about Maoist chairperson Prachanda’s recent public statement of returning seized land and houses, Saraf cited Maoist in-charge Jeetendra’s statement that they were felling the trees to pay back a loan taken to organise a mass gathering in Janakpur recently.

The Maoists also felled trees planted on land belonging to Krishna Chandra Sharma Baral of Raghopur-8, Jhabburam Shah of Bishnupur and Nepali Congress district president Sitadevi Yadav in June, 2006. Baral said the Maoists sold trees worth Rs 40 lakh at 3 lakh. The Maoists felled trees planted on 30 bigha each of Jhabburam Shah and Sitadevi Yadav and sold them in last June.

Maoist district secretary Abinash said the trees were felled as per the party decision to fell trees planted on the lands of feudal lords.