A holy Dhwaja Sthambha (flagstaff) being installed in front of a mandir by vanvasi (aka ‘tribals’) Hindus has been destroyed by a team of forest officials led by a Muslim forest ranger, triggering tension in several villages of Telangana.
On 30 March, a day after Sri Ram Navami, the vanvasi community of Gummadiwali village in Aswaraopet mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district prepared to place a new Dhwaja Stambha made up of a neem tree’s trunk in Ganganama mandir (temple) as per their age-old indigenous tradition. These vanvasis brought the tree trunk from the nearby forest by taking prior permission from forest officials.
While they were preparing to erect the Dhwaja Stambha in front of the temple, suddenly forest officials headed by ranger Abdul Rahman reached the temple, cut down the holy Dhwaja Stambha and chopped it into pieces, ignoring the pleas of locals.
The news of the destruction of the Dhwaja Sthambha spread like wildfire in the district. The angry vanvasis of the local villages gathered in heavy numbers and rushed to the divisional forest office, demanding justice and immediate suspension of forest ranger Abdul Rahman for insulting their sentiments and indigenous traditions. The angry villagers were pacified with an assurance from the local police officers and politicians to arrange a new tree trunk and an apology from Abdul Rahman.
Locals say that the forest ranger recently converted to Islam from Hindu Dharma – his pre-conversion name is said to be Bhaskar Goud – and attribute this factor to his rash action.
(This article first appeared on nijamtoday.com on April 1, 2023 and is being republished as part of a content-sharing agreement via smart4bharat.com with minor edits to improve readability)
Telangana Today has also covered this story and reported that the tree log that was snatched away by the ranger was a Narepa (Anjan tree or Indian blackwood) log. But they have not named the forest ranger.
Will have to teach lesson