Nayagarh: A kangaroo court slapped a penalty of Rs 3.40 lakh on four persons after holding them guilty of stealing a tree in front of the Malisahi police outpost under sadar police limits of Nayagarh district Thursday.
Observers alleged that the police officials stood as mute spectators as the villagers of Malisahi passed the order on three youths and a trader.
The village elders conducting the trial also threatened to ostracise the accused persons and debar them from use of fire and water if they fail to pay the penalty. The village elders imposed the hefty penalty by holding them responsible for the theft of sandalwood trees in the village.
Sources said some youths of Malisahi village caught four persons including a trader red-handed chopping a tree near the village temple Wednesday night. The accused persons took to their heels after getting detected, but the village youths chased them.
The village youths overpowered one of them who was from their own village and a trader from nearby Kanchanbili village. Two of the culprits escaped.
Later, they were handed over to the villagers. The villagers immediately convened a meeting and started a trial of the detained youths at 6 am. The meeting went past 10 am and the villagers slapped a fine of Rs 3.40 lakh on the four youths, including the two detainees.
The penalty includes Rs 1 lakh each on the three youths accused of stealing trees and Rs 40,000 on the trader.
When contacted, Rajendra Kanhar, the OIC of Malisahi police outpost feigned ignorance and said that no complaint has been filed.