Some villagers and fishermen were sitting in front of the police-station along with the dead body agitating against the police-inaction and demanding the immediate arrest of the STPF officials.
The villagers, the fishermen and their families are irked by the inaction of the cops against the officials of the STPF. The situation assumed greater proportions when the fishermen and the family of the deceased were sitting with the corpse in front of the Deolapar Police Station demanding immediate arrest of the guilty STPF officials on February 24, 2015. After much pressure from local leaders, the Deolapar Police registered a case under section 302 of Indian Penal Code against the STPF officials. However, the cops have not registered case against any specific official. Chief Conservator of Forest and Field Director of Pench MS Reddy had allegedly ordered the firing.
The Totladoh dam is a gravity dam on the Pench River near Ramtek in Nagpur. The core residents of the area were ousted out of the Pench National Park. This Totladoh Dam was built jointly by Madhya Pradesh Government and Maharashtra Government. The Hydro-electric plant installed on the dam provides electricity to both the states. The Madhya Pradesh Government has permitted the original residents of the forests to continue fishing in the Totladoh Dam, but the Maharashtra Government has strictly banned the fishing in the dam. This often leads to clashes between the fisher folk and the forest officials.
On February 23, 2015, the situation turned ugly when a fisherman was killed and six others were injured in the firing by Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) of Maharashtra Forest Department. The STPF had to fire at the fishermen after they entered to fish in Totladoh reservoir in Pench National Park in-spite of the forest officials attempting to prevent the fishermen from illegal fishing activity.
According to some locals, the STPF officials started chasing them and hitting them with canes and rifle butts. One of the officials had fired killing one of the fisherman identified as Harinanda Sundarlal Banwari aged 32 years and a resident of Rajatwadi (New Totladoh) situated near Deolapar. In the melee, many other fishermen were injured. The injured have been identified as Bhola, Baban, Bala and others.
The forest officials on the other hand claimed that the STPF personnel were only retaliating to the stone pelting by a group of fishermen. They claimed that some fishermen were lobbing petrol bombs at them. Staff from Deolapar Police Station, including PSO S G Undirwade, rushed to the spot after receiving information about the firing incident from forest officers.
It is learnt that forestmen preferred to send body of Harinanda to Mayo Hospital, Nagpur, for conducting post-mortem since the crowd of fishermen had gathered at Deolapar Police Station. The Fishermen were squatting in front of the police station premises demanding that the body be hand-over to them.
According to unconfirmed reports, some angry villagers resorted to arson and violence in Totladoh area. They set afire tents of STPF and police near the reservoir.
The forest policy and legislation in India has contributed considerably to the process of deforestation. In India, Forests are state-owned. The assertion of state monopoly right and the exclusion of forest communities have marked the organizing principles of forest administration, since its inception in 1864. The concern and the ability of the forest dependent communities to preserve their own natural resource and ecosystem is in perpetual conflict with the State Forest Departments. The forest dependent communities are antagonistic to state control, and to whom management of forests essentially forms a part of lifestyle and cosmology.