Under pressure to deliver, State Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain on Monday announced a slew of measures to check unabated killing of rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park.
At a hurriedly convened media briefing exclusively for TV news channels, Hussain announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh to anyone who provides information about poachers and promised to keep his identity a secret. Killing of yet another rhino led the Minister to announce the fresh measures.
The Minister further disclosed that they have information about one group of armed cadres of the Karbi Peoples Liberation Tigers (KPLT) sneaking into the wildlife sanctuary.
He said that the first and second battalions of the Assam Forest Protection Force have been ordered inside the national park. The forces are likely to be deployed tonight itself, he was quoted by the channels as having claimed.
In a span of 11 months beginning January, 34 rhinos have been slaughtered and the issue has become a source of embarrassment for the Assam Government. As reported by this newspaper, a visiting Parliamentary Standing Committee expressed its concern over the killings and promised to take up the issue with the Centre. Last year 28 rhinos were killed by poachers in the National Park.
On the other hand, Hussain’s failure to stop the killings could cost him his job, as pressure is likely to mount on Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to change his State Forest Minister.
A senior AICC leader, when contacted today said that the issue is likely to figure at the Core Committee meeting ahead of the Winter Session of the Parliament, as all senior party leaders are busy with election campaigning.