Protest over rhino killing in Assam

Tezpur: Locals burnt the effigy of the forest range officer of northern range, Kaziranga National Park, on Monday, a day after Assam forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma blamed him for the killing of a rhino in the range on Saturday night.

A 20-year-old male rhino was killed by poachers at Polokata Tapu in the sixth addition of Kaziranga in Biswanath district.

The locals burnt the officer’s effigy, protesting against his alleged negligence of duty.

Brahma, who on Sunday night visited the spot where poachers had killed the rhino and taken away its horn, blamed the range officer for negligence of duty and also pointed a finger of “doubt” on his involvement in rhino poaching.

She instructed the divisional forest officer of the national park, Rohini Ballav Saikia, to take action against the officer.

Talking to reporters after visiting Polokata Tapu, a deserted area about 200m from Lahorijan forest camp, Brahma said the BJP-led government had assured the people that it would protect rhinos but was finding it difficult to do so as forest officials, instead of doing their duty were “indulging in politics” as a result of which they were regularly failing to protect the wildlife.

She said the rhino was shot in an open area and several rounds of bullets were fired, which means that the sound could be heard clearly. Yet, the poachers were able to flee with the horn, which pointed at involvement of foresters.

Efforts to contact the minister proved futile.

PRANAB KUMAR DAS Telegraph India

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