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Ex-MLA calls meet to curb poaching

Jorhat, Oct. 3: Former Bokakhat MLA Jiten Gogoi has convened a public meeting tomorrow at Kuthori near Kaziranga National Park in a bid to unite villagers to fight against rhino poachers.

A large part of Kaziranga falls under Bokakhat constituency in Golaghat district. Gogoi, a former Ulfa militant, told The Telegraph today that he has already launched an operation against rhino poachers and had gathered information about a few people who were involved in rhino killings.

“Our men are on the lookout for these people. When these people are caught they would be punished,” Gogoi said.

He, however, said it would not be possible to check poaching at the national park without the help of the villagers and as such the meeting has been called to garner public support.

“We have invited all the gaonburahs (village chiefs), political party leaders, members of NGOs and one and all who are involved with Kaziranga and reside near the national park. We have also invited the villagers from the adjacent Karbi Anglong hills. We hope the meeting will help in creating mass awareness and bring the people together to fight against poachers,” Gogoi said.

The former MLA said Bokakhat Nirman Joot, the NGO which he heads, has already taken up the cause to fight against rhino poaching and has been concentrating on building an “intelligence network” on its own to keep track of rhino poachers.

“Members of the NGO have fanned out to different villages, both near Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong and have been trying to build an intelligence network. We will work hand in hand with the forest department in this regard,” he said, adding that he was trying to revive his connections in Karbi Anglong villages where he had his timber business before taking to politics.

Gogoi said if the NGO manages to apprehend a poacher, he would be punished with his nose and ears being chopped off.

“We will hand him over to police only after his ears and nose are chopped off, the same way they have chopped off the horn and the ears of the rhinos,” he said.

The former two-term Independent MLA of Bokakhat, who lost to Congressman Arun Phukan in the last election, said it was the duty of the people residing near the national park to save the rhinos and fight against poachers, who have shamed the people of not only Kaziranga but the entire state.

“We will also have to take up development projects in villages near the national park because some villagers share information with poachers regarding rhino movement and also provide logistical support to poachers for money. We have to take up schemes to economically upgrade these villages so that poachers cannot lure them with money,” he said.

Gogoi said his NGO has identified a few villages where self-employment schemes would be launched soon to keep the villagers engaged.