Wayanad: Seven applications submitted in the name of landowners at the village office are found to be fakes in the forensic investigation. The fake applications at the village office were submitted to get permission to cut the trees. The handwriting analysis found that the person who wrote these applications and signed is one of the accused, Roji Augustine.
The fake applications are made in the name of small farmers and tribals. The police had recovered the fake applications from the Muttil Village Office.
The accused have cut trees from lands belonging to 65 persons including the accused. The Augustine brothers cut 104 trees and took off with it on the basis of a government order. They were able to cut trees from tribal lands too.
They got away with trees that were more than 300 years old. It is said that three of them were more than 500 years old. They were able cut down the trees on the backing of a government order that they misinterpreted deliberately. The order had given permission to cut trees planted after 1964.
However, the Augustine brothers cut down trees much older than 1964. This was revealed in a DNA testing done on the felled trees.
The government order had allowed the landowners of the land given by government to cut the trees planted there. However, the accused took advantage of this government order and indulged in a massive felling of trees that were of high quality and very old.
Meanwhile, there is an allegation that the Crime Branch investigation into the case is going slow. Even though the Forest Department had submitted its investigation report years ago, there has been no progress in the investigation by the Crime Branch. The Forest Minister said that the Forest Department has already done everything possible and now action must be taken by the Crime Branch.
The Muttil tree felling case was investigated by the Forest Department after branching into many groups. Their report was handed over to the Crime Branch in 2021. The Crime Branch is examining the conspiracy behind the crime.
However, when allegations rose that the Chief Minister’s office was involved in it, the investigation began to move slow and no progress has since been made. The high level investigation team was formulated by officers of Crime Branch, Forest Department and Vigilance. The Forest Minister told that his department had found out that the value of the trees was much higher than shown.
There were accusations from the beginning of attempts to sabotage the high level investigation of the Crime Branch. When the charge sheet was about to be submitted the investigation officer was transferred.
Also, the suspended officers in the Muttil tree felling case were reinstated. Thus the investigation could not progress. There has been no report on the progress of the investigation in the past one-and-a-half years.