Assam's students' body vows to fight rhino poaching

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Guwahati, Feb 27: All Assam Students' Union(AASU) today vowed to fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the state, especially the one-horned rhinos of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP).

Lambasting the state government for their 'callous attitude' towards frequent wildlife-related crimes, AASU advisor Dr Samujjal Bhattacharyya said, ''The attitude of the government is costing the rich wildlife resources of the state dearly. We will launch a massive agitation until the government takes concrete steps to save wildlife.

''The unabated poaching of the one-horned rhinos, with three killed within the KNP this year, illegal wildlife trade and encroachment of the Park land by suspected-Bangladeshi nationals have created concern across the state, with civil societies coming forward to protest against them,'' he added.

The AASU organised a public meeting at Kohora in KNP on February 24 to discuss these issues. They demanded a special force to protect wildlife.

Dr Bhattacharyya, informing about the resolutions in the meeting, said, ''It was unanimously decided that a Special Task Force, with armed men and sophisticated arms, was the need of the hour to fight poaching in the state.

Protection of wildlife and its habitats should be accorded top priority by the government, he added.

Reiterating its demand for a CBI probe to expose the alleged politician-forest official-poacher nexus behind the killing of rhinos, the AASU leader also demanded exemplary punishment for the arrested poachers.

He said, ''The law should be strictly enforced and shoot-at-sight orders should be issued against the poachers.

Pointing out that two of total three species of rhinos have already become extinct in KNP, Dr Bhattacharyya said, ''The government has been totally ineffective, with the Opposition parties also remaining silent. The Opposition should have taken the matter to the national level, but they have failed miserably. He also alleged that suspected-Bangladeshi nationals have encroached upon vast tracts of land within the KNP and other parks, but the government has failed to evict them.

AASU General Secretary Tapan Gogoi alleged that state Forest Minister Rockybull Hussain has failed in discharging his duties and added, ''The chief minister has also been silent on the issue and has failed to take steps against his minister.'' ''Mr Hussain could be indispensable for the chief minister politically, but not for the people of the state. For the people of Assam, our prized wildlife is indispensable,'' he reiterated.

Mr Gogoi informed that the AASU would launch an agitation in every forest, where rhinos were being poached. Mr Gogoi said, ''AASU would launch an international campaign to create awareness among all regarding rhino horns having no real medicinal value.

''The rhinos were being killed for their horn, which is superstitiously believed to possess medicinal values, a belief refuted by scientific studies,'' he added.


UNI

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