The two men who are shepherds, have confessed to the crime in front of a Judicial Magistrate and have been remanded to judicial custody.

Shepherds unhappy with straying tigers allegedly started Bandipur fire 2 held
news Environment Saturday, March 02, 2019 - 10:16

Staff from the Bandipur Tiger Reserve have arrested two more men who were allegedly involved in setting fire to the GS Bette area. The Forest Department claimed that the two men have confessed in front of a Judicial Magistrate. They have been remanded to judicial custody.

Speaking to TNM, Chief of the Karnataka Forest Department Sridhar Punnati said, “We earlier arrested one man, but he did not admit to setting the fire. These two men whom we arrested yesterday have confessed to the crime and have been sent to judicial custody. They are shepherds who herd cattle and sheep, which we don’t allow into the jungle. They were not happy with the tigers that were straying around and killing cattle and set fire as a result.”

He also took to Facebook to announce the same, “Bandipur Tiger Reserve staff arrest three who were involved in setting fire to GS Betta area. Two of them who herd cattle agreed before the Judicial Magistrate to have set fire for not allowing cattle inside and for the tiger straying out and killing cattle. All remanded to judicial custody,” read his post.

The fire which engulfed the Bandipur Tiger Reserve raged for five long days before it was finally put out on Tuesday, February 26. Officials estimated that around 500 hectares of land had been scorched and destroyed in the fire.

“According to satellite imagery, it is estimated that high-intensity fire has affected 500 hectares mostly in the hillside of Gopalaswamy Betta and the rest of it is mostly low-intensity fire,” Sridhar had said to TNM at the time.

Two helicopters from the Indian Air Force sprayed roughly 30,000 litres of water to fight the fire in the Gopalaswamy Betta range of the reserve. The fire also had significantly scorched the nearby ranges of Bandipur and Kundikere.

Activists TNM had spoken to previously claimed that the fire spread so rapidly because there were no ‘sufficient fire lines’ in place to prevent them. Once the fire spread to a larger area, the dry conditions, hilly terrain and winds, all added to the problem.

The fire was doused and controlled only five days after it started, through the combined efforts of several officials as well as the Indian Air Force. 

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