By Ritupallab Ssikia
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti today took out a procession from Rangajan field in Kohora to the office of the director of Kaziranga National Park protesting against the failure of the government to stop the relentless poaching in the park. The protest took place hours after yet another rhino was killed at the Bagori range of the park.
The protesters were joined by nearly 100 members of the Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti, the student wing of the KMSS, which took out a bike rally from here to Kaziranga National Park.
The killing of the rhino took place around 11 last night near the Bornoloni forest camp under Bagori range of the national park. The carcass of the dehorned female rhino was recovered by forest officials at 5 this morning.
With today’s incident, the number of rhinos killed by poachers at the park this year has gone up to 16.
KMSS president Akhil Gogoi while addressing a gathering later said the poaching of rhinos has increased because of inefficient governance of the forest department. Expressing serious concern over the poaching of rhinos, Gogoi accused state forest minister Rakibul Hussain of making tall claims, which he failed to translate into action.
Gogoi alleged that the park has failed on several occasions to take into confidence the people living in the neighbourhood.
“Rather, it has continued to target poor villagers while the actual poachers always escape,” he said.
The KMSS demanded that M.K. Yadav, the director of the park, should accept the memorandum in person. However, even after four hours, Yadav did not comply and the sub-divisional officer of Bokakhat, Mrigesh Narayan Barua, accepted the memorandum on his behalf.
The protesters refused to budge from the spot but when the SDO Bokakhat assured them that he would call a public meeting tomorrow where the director of the national park, representatives of district administration, KMSS and public will have an interaction, the activists called off the protest.
The KMSS organised today’s strike in support of its 9-point charter that included immediate steps to be taken by park authorities to ensure better community relationship, put an end to harassment meted out to the people living in the close vicinity of the park and adoption of best international scientific and social practices so that poaching of the rhinos can be stopped immediately.
Among others, the organisation also had in its list demands such as appointment of more forest guards and providing them with best of the facilities along with sophisticated weapons, lobbying against the international agencies which try to procure rhino horns from Assam, implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, in Kaziranga National Park immediately and to ensure community rights to the people according to the forest act and land deeds to indigenous people living in the neighbourhood of the park according to law.