Guwahati, April 11: Unabated poaching of one-horned rhinoceros became a major issue in this year's Assembly election in Assam with all parties vowing to protect the State Animal, especially in the Kaziranga National Park.
However, all the talks proved to be hollow as yet another rhinoceros fell victim on Saturday, ahead of the second and final phase of the Assembly election held on Monday.
According to forest department sources, a female adult rhinoceros was fired at by the poachers at Garpal area in Assam and they sawed off its horn. Forest officials later found the injured animal seething in pain and took it to the hospital where it died on Sunday.
Poaching of rhinos is a pressing issue in Assam where nearly 200 of them have been killed since 2001, when the Congress returned to power. The ruling party since then has faced flak from the Opposition BJP and AGP on the issue. The BJP has even accused it of having nexus with the poachers and allowing them to get away.
The issue of rhino poaching featured in the poll speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national chief Amit Shah who asked the voters to back their party in this year's election to ensure that the animals' plight is brought to an end.
Modi said in a rally at Bokakhat near the KNP that the Congress
was not only indulging in corruption but also eating up the rhinos
in the wild.
The AGP, which is contesting this election in alliance with the BJP and BPF, has promised to enact strict law to deal with the menace of rhino poaching and setting up eco-sensitive zones inside the wildlife protection areas to improve the steps taken to improve the safety of the endangered animals.
The Congress, on the other hand, promised to out to use a state-of-the-art mechanism to safeguard the rhinos, especially those living in the wild of Kaziranga. The ruling party has often blamed militants armed with modern weapons for the poaching of the rhinos.
The latest poaching is expected to keep the debate alive.