NIA may be roped in to probe killings, says Forest minister
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, July 21: The issue of poaching of rhinos for their horns in the State, especially in Kaziranga tiol Park (KNP), rocked the House on the fourth day of the budget session with members of all political parties expressing grave concern over the ubated killings. The MLAs asked State Forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma to take all possible measures to stop poaching incidents.
In her reply, Brahma said, “The CBI is investigating some cases of rhino killings in the State. We are even planning to hand over other such cases to the NIA for investigation. I have requested the Chief Minister in this regard, as we need to look into many angles that might exist in poaching cases.”
Brahma told the House that incidents of rhino poaching in the State couldn’t easily be stopped due to high demand for their horns in intertiol market. “We have constituted an expert committee to examine the horns that are being kept in treasury offices in the State,” she informed.
On the issue of welfare of forest guards who are deployed in different tiol parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State, the Forest Minister said, “We need to take care of their problems with all sincerity. The arms and ammunition they use are outdated and can’t match the firepower of poachers. In some cases, we have found that even ammunition are not available for use.”
Brahma further said, “The State government is sympathetically looking into demands of salary, ration and other requirements made by forest guards from time to time. We are also trying to provide sophisticated equipments like night vision cameras, binoculars, etc. so that they can deal with poachers more effectively.”
On this issue, BJP MLA Padma Hazarika referred to 339 rhinos poached in the last 15 years in the State, expressing serious concern over the nexus between forest officials and poachers.
Some years back, a poacher confessed that a cheque of Rs 3 lakh was paid to a forest official, and the photocopy of the cheque was kept with the Forest department. But the entire issue was somehow swept under the carpet, Hazarika recalled.
In her reply, the Forest Minister said her department will take all possible measures to curb rhino poaching in the State.