Forest department officials arrested Vikram Simha, the brother of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Pratap Simha on Saturday, December 30 in connection with a tree felling case. Vikram was accused of illegal felling of 126 trees on government land at Nandagondanahalli in Belur taluk in Hassan district.
The Forest Department became aware of the tree felling on December 16, following a report from Belur tahsildar Mamatha. The tahsildar asserted that the trees were cut down to make way for ginger cultivation. Subsequent interrogations at Vikram Simha's residence on December 25 proved futile, as he was not found.
Vikram Simha had initially appeared for a statement before the Investigation Officer (IO) but avoided further interaction.
The Forest Department in a statement said that Vikram Simha had initially appeared before the investigating officer after the complaint was lodged. However, he subsequently refrained from appearing before the officer. In light of documentary evidence indicating his potential involvement in the crime, efforts were initiated to locate him.
“Surveillance through electronic means indicated his departure from Hassan to Bengaluru. A group of officials subsequently arrived in Bengaluru and sought cooperation from the Police Commissioner of the city to assist in tracing the accused,” forest department said.
A joint team led by Assistant Conservator of Forests (Hassan) Prabhugouda Biradar and ACP (Crime cell) Bengaluru arrested Vikram Simha in Bengaluru. In response to the incident, the Forest Department has suspended five officials, including Deputy Conservator of Forests D Mohan Kumar, citing negligence and dereliction of duty in connection with the case.
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