Jorhat, Feb. 6: The forest department’s attempt to form a peace committee to protect birds from poachers was today foiled with villagers of Bahona Neemati near here demanding immediate arrest of the culprits before the move was floated.
During a meeting held at Bahona Girls’ High School, the villagers, led by Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, demanded the arrest of a local Congress leader’s brother, alleging that he was involved in poaching of birds.
The meeting was attended by district forest officer N.K. Malakar and other forest officials, environmental organisations like Shewa and Prakriti and village heads.
Debomoni Dutta, a resident of the area, said the forest department had on January 22 found a bag containing liquor besides bird viscera and feathers buried near a buffalo shed owned by the Congress leader’s brother. “At that time we had demanded his arrest but Neemati police refused to lodge a complaint against him,” he alleged. He said this was the first case of bird poaching in Jorhat district this year.
He said they had given a 24-hour deadline to the police to arrest the accused, as it was evident that he was involved in bird poaching.
Northeast anchalik AJYCP secretary C. Hazarika said they would organise Neemati bandh and road blockades if the police failed to arrest the accused and find out the truth.
Jorhat district AJYCP president Siba Kalita alleged that Shewa and Prakriti had initiated the move to hold the meeting to form the committee to gain brownie points for themselves without actually doing anything to bring the culprits to book. “It is easy to form committees. If poaching takes place then these committees will be blamed for not being vigilant,” he added.
“The AJYCP had complained against him to the forest department but the department failed to lodge a complaint against him. We know that he is being shielded because he is the brother of a local Congress leader,” Hazarika alleged. Instead, the department lodged an FIR with Neemati police outpost against unknown persons.
Neemati outpost in-charge C. Deuri said investigations were on but without proof it was not possible to arrest anyone.
Sources said in today’s meeting, the forest department had agreed to lodge a complaint against the Congress leader’s brother.
In the past month, 35 bar-headed and greylag geese have been poached in the area, leading to a hue and cry among conservationists and the people.