JODHPUR: A 25-year-old youth of Bishnoi community lost his life protecting some chinkaras from poachers in Manu village under Jamba police station near Phalodi in Jodhpur on Wednesday. The Bishnois are strong lovers of trees and wild animals.
According to Sunil Dutt, inspector general of police (Jodhpur), Shaitanaram Bishnoi along with a few other villagers resisted poaching of chinkaras by two motorcycle-borne youths who were in prowl for the antelopes which are aplenty in the region.
"Manu being a nearly-deserted village there aren't too many vehicles that cross it at night. Therefore, when Shaitanaram Bishnoi heard the noise of a motorbike racing down at midnight he immediately guessed the reason and rushed out along with some other villagers on his Bolero," said a villager.
"He followed the bike with other villagers in a Bolero but their vehicle got stuck in the thick sand. However, Shaitanaram jumped off the vehicle and rushed towards the poachers, who were also struggling for maneuvering their motorcycle in the sand and caught one of them," said Dutt.
"However, in order to rescue the poacher, his colleague fired at Bishnoi with his double barrel 12 bore gun straight on his head, leaving him dead on the spot," Dutt added. Before other villagers could nab the poachers, they fled from the spot.
The news spread like wildfire in the region and scores of agitated villagers arrived on the scene in the morning. They refused to accept the body of the deceased demanding the district collector to come and listen to their demand. They wanted the status of martyr for Shaitanaram and concrete steps for the protection of wildlife.
Incidentally the incident occurred on a day when actor Salman Khan also appeared in the court in relation to the poaching of black bucks in a case dating back to 1998.
District collector Gaurav Goyal said the villagers were demanding sacking of the SHO of Jamba police station, arms license for them in order to protect themselves and to deal with poachers and the strengthening of the forest check-posts and patrolling by forest mobile vans in the area.
History is replete with the sacrifices of Bishnois for the cause of trees and wildlife. In 1730, 363 Bishnoi men, women and children gave their lives to protect trees from cutting by the king's men in Khejarli village in Jodhpur by hugging to them.