The Maharashtra government on Wednesday, March 31, suspended Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) Field Director Srinivas Reddy in the wake of the death of Harisal Range Forest Officer Deepali Chavan.
Chavan died by suicide on March 26. In her suicide note, she accused Gugamal Forest Division Deputy Conservator of Forest Vinod Shivkumar of harassment and said she was taking the extreme step because of that, The Indian Express reported.
Chavan further mentioned that Reddy had failed to take action and acknowledge her complaint against Shivkumar, despite raising it multiple times. However, she thanked Reddy for his support, saying she felt safe around him.
Amravati Police arrested the accused for abetment to suicide. On Tuesday, the Nagpur forest department staff staged protests demanding action against Reddy.
Besides,Teosa Congress MLA and Minister for Women and Child Development Yeshomati Thakur met Maharashtra's chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking the director's suspension. She further urged the CM to initiate a probe into the matter.
In her meeting, the Congress MLA said that many Melghat women staffers had approached the Amravati district collector over facing issues at the workplace and requested to look into the matter. Following this, the Collector had put it across to Reddy, who didn't take necessary action, Thakur has alleged in a letter to CM.
While several politicians and forest staffers' associations approached the government for Reddy's suspension, many women staffers of the Forest department showed their support for him.
Although he has been transferred from Melghat, Reddy wrote to the Head of Forest Force and also the CM, stating his transfer was unjust. The support Reddy garnered has not gone well with the state government.
According to the report, Reddy is believed to be the only Tiger Reserve Field Director in the country, designated as the additional principal chief conservator of forest.
He has also been issued a notice by the State Commission for Women, demanding his explanation within eight days.