• Late Ram Kumar Adivasi
RECIPIENT : Late Ram Kumar Adivasi, Forester, ( awarded posthumously )
by  Chitral Chatterjee

Speak up and you shall die!’ ‘Stand up against wrong and you shall be wronged!!’ All witnesses silenced. Case closed. Let injustice prevail. A life is worth nothing. A supreme sacrifice trifled. That’s what happened with forester, Late Ram Kumar Adivasi. A fighter by choice, a leader by nature, this forester had given it all that it would take to be a protector in true sense of the word. Promoted as Forester from Forest Guard in 2007, Adivasi worked heart and soul for the forests at Palpur West sub range Setakhera under Kuno Wildlife Division, Sheopur. An asset to our country’s wildlife man’s service, he had reorganised his priorities the very day he joined service – wildlife over his own life. So when the call came, he answered.

The still morning air of 30th September, 2009 was shattered with the sound of gunfire. Calmness vanished into thin air as all hell broke loose at 6 a.m. when the ear-splitting sound jolted Adivasi and his two other companions, Forester Shivchandra Singh and ChowkidarPannuAdivasi. They advanced swiftly trailing the sound and discovered an armed gang. Who knew that palpable 200 metres chase would sound the death knell for Adivasi? Ram Kumar had recognised one of the gang members and that proved fatal for him. In order to secure the gang’s safety, one of the members shot Adivasi squarely on his chest from a 50 mertres range. Adivasi ran 15 metres backward just uttering “bullet hit me” and fell, embracing death. His run backwards was a desperate cry of reversal of events – should it never have happened he could return to his family safe and sound – nonetheless, he died a hero, like a true soldier on battlefield.

Shivchandra and Pannu rushed to the nearest Forest outpost to inform Adivasi’s death. The D.F.O. Gwalior and his team, Police from Pohari moved to the spot immediately. At around 6 p.m., as the last rays of the sun lit the crimson sky, reflecting the bloody outcome of the events, curls of smoke rose upto the sky from the holy, all consuming cremating fire. MemrajMoghiya, MahendraMoghiya, JagmohanMoghiya and his 13 year old son Rajendra – all from Panwara village dipped their hands in Ram Kumar Adivasi’s sacred blood. Though they had shown their faces in the court’s trial,
they were charge-sheeted within 90 days but released on bail by February, 2010 as police could not plead strongly, it was alleged. A panic stricken PannuAdivasi quit his job and left PalpurKuno for safety following threats of dire consequences. Criminals, true to their colours, instilled so much fear among the witnesses that they refused to recognise them on the Identification Parade.

Punished by fate, Adivasi’s four daughters and a son became helpless. The forest department provided RamkumarAdivasi’s son DheerVardhan a job on October 21, 2009, creating the post of a Young Forest Guard. To save the family from starvation, the little boy took all the responsibilities at the age of thirteen only on his own shoulders.

RamkumarAdivasi breathed his last in an attempt to let our country’s wildlife breathe. Undaunted, this fearless fighter had previously put a full stop to the heinous activities of many poachers. As darkness fell on Ramkumar’s life, he left us all hopefully awaiting a new dawn.