Jorhat, Nov. 2: Former Bokakhat MLA Jiten Gogoi today claimed that at least 30 poachers have been apprehended by the NGO Bokakhat Nirman Joot which he heads, in an operation launched near Kaziranga National Park since September 28.
We have not handed these poachers over to police but are using them to apprehend other poachers. According to our information, there are at least 80 poachers near the national park and efforts are on to apprehend them, Jiten Gogoi, a former Ulfa member, told The Telegraph today. He said the weapons recovered from these poachers have been handed over to the police.
Kaziranga, where poachers killed 18 rhinos this year, was opened to tourists yesterday.
Gogoi had announced about a month ago that his NGO had launched an operation against poachers and had held a public meeting near the national park seeking public co-operation in this regard. The initiative was taken by the former MLA following a spurt in rhino killing in and around Kaziranga National Park.
The killings led to a huge public outcry. Union forest and environment minister Jayanti Natarajan had also visited the park recently. The former MLA said since there was no direct evidence against the poachers, it was no use handing them over to the police.
If they are handed over to the police, they would be sent to the jail for a few months and would be back to kill rhinos again, as such we have used them in tracking other poachers, he said.
Sources said Gogoi is planning to organise a surrender ceremony of these poachers shortly.
Naba Bora, the officer in-charge of Diphu police station, however, said though Gogoi was in touch with him regarding anti-poaching measurers, the MLA was in no way involved in any operation against poachers near the national park.
We have apprehended six poachers, including three last night, and recovered three weapons in various operations carried out near Kaziranga but it was totally a police operation, he said.
Bora also said neither Jiten Gogoi nor his NGO had handed over any weapons, which he claimed to have recovered from the poachers. The police officer, who is heading a major operation against poachers since the past month, said it could be possible that the poachers who Gogoi claimed to have apprehended, were actually taking shelter with him.
What was the former MLA doing when rhinos were being killed in Kaziranga earlier? How come he is taking an active role now when many agencies, including the police were launching operations against the poachers? he asked.
Karbi Anglong police, it may be mentioned, have apprehended more than 20 people, including seven poachers who were directly involved in the killing of at least three rhinos in and around Kaziranga recently.