The Madhya Pradesh Police on Thursday arrested eight forest department personnel, including a deputy ranger, in Seoni district for allegedly beating a villager to death and burning his body, The Times of India reported.

“The incident occurred on Tuesday when a villager, Roopchand Sonwane, went to the forest to collect firewood near Gangpur village under Bahrai forest circle,” Barghat Police Station in-charge Khemendra Jaitwar told PTI.

Deputy Ranger Santosh Uike and the other forest department employees caught Sonwane on suspicion that he was cutting teak trees. Some villagers saw the forest department personnel taking away the 40-year-old, Jaitwar added.

The villager’s family members visited Uike and pleaded with him to let Sonwane go. The deputy ranger reportedly assured them that he would do so. “When Sonwane did not return in the night, the family members contacted Uike again, who told them that he had been released, Jaitwar said. “However the man did not return till Wednesday evening.”

After Sonwane’s family threatened to file a police complaint, Uike and the others visited the police and allegedly confessed to their crime. Uike told the police that the forest officials had burnt Sonwane’s body in the forest’s Padnala area, Jaitwar said, adding that a forensic team had collected samples from a charred body to determine if it was of the deceased villager.