* 12 Fast Track Courts for wildlife crimes in State
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 8: Bad days are waiting for poachers in Assam. The State has decided to set up more fast-track courts for quick trial of wildlife crime cases and convict poachers.
For the first time, 10 fast-track courts for wildlife offences were set up in the State in January, 2017. Two more courts have been set up in Baksa and Chirang districts recently to boost anti-poaching and conservation efforts in Manas National Park and other forests in BTAD. With the setting up of the two courts in Baksa and Chirang, the total number of fast-track courts for wildlife crimes in the State has gone up to 12.
“Setting up of fast track courts have enabled the State to take steps to rein in wildlife crimes by speeding up prosecution and conviction of poachers. Six convictions were made in five separate cases in 2017,” a Forest department official said.
In contrast, official figures show just one conviction for wildlife crime in Assam in all of 2016, five in 2015, two in 2014, four in 2013, none in 2012 and two in 2011. From 2000 to 2010, there just three convictions.
The surge in prosecutions has been matched by an increase in the number of arrests for wildlife crimes in the State. Sources said altogether 207 people were arrested from May 2016 to May 2017. Cases relating to 207 arrests are in various stages of investigation or are currently facing trial in the fast-track courts.
“The number of fast track courts is likely to go up more in the middle of this year. At least three more courts may be set up which will take the total number up to 15,” a Forest official said.