| A carcass of a rhino in Kaziranga. File picture |
Jorhat, June 30: The Bokakhat sub-divisional administration of Golaghat district has urged Dispur to extend counter-insurgency operations to areas on the periphery of Kaziranga National Park to curb rhino poaching.
The proposal also calls for deployment of a force with amphibious capabilities to operate on both the banks of the Brahmaputra.
The proposal is part of a comprehensive report prepared by the administration on measures to be adopted to check rhino poaching, which recently has been submitted to chief secretary Jitesh Khosla, through the commissioner (Upper Assam division) S.I. Hussain.
The report stated that in view of “enough evidence” of involvement of militants in rhino poaching, the counter-insurgency operations carried out by the army, paramilitary and state police forces in the districts in areas in which the park is spread, should be extended to the periphery areas of Kaziranga.
The park, spread over 800 square km that includes new areas added to the north bank of the Brahmaputra, straddles Golaghat, Nagaon and Sonitpur districts and has a large boundary with the forests of Karbi Anglong district.
The report quoted and annexed recent intelligence reports from the Special Branch of Assam police and the Union home ministry, which mentioned the involvement of KPLT cadres in rhino poaching in Kaziranga.
The proposal said there should be “strategic deployment of available force and induction of two additional companies of army/paramilitary or Assam police battalion” in the areas near the park boundary.
It suggested that one company of the army currently stationed at Bagori should be “mandated” to dominate National Highway 37 from the Haldhibari corridor to Kuthori and the areas till the adjoining hills. One additional company of force will be needed to be deployed at Burapahar to dominate the Kanchanjuri-Burapahar-Ghorakati stretch of National Highway 37.
The report said a Mizo police battalion, currently stationed at Panbari and Hathikhuli, should be directed to dominate about 3km of National Highway 37 in the adjoining areas to protect the animal corridors.
Another company with amphibious capabilities should be stationed at Biswanath Chariali or Gohpur to operate on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra. The force should be equipped with speedboats, inflatable rubber boats, night vision glasses and vehicles to carry out its operations on both land and water.
“Such a force is required to demonstrate the resoluteness of the government to end the free run of the poachers,” the report stated.
The report suggested recruiting 300 eligible youths from the fringe areas of Kaziranga as guards with 50 each from the five ranges of the park and another 50 from adjoining Karbi Anglong district. It cautioned that the recruitment process should be transparent and based on eligibility criteria only.
The report also proposed the formation of village defence parties (VDPs) under the name of Green Warriors or Green Guards in the park’s surrounding villages with stipends to be given by the corporate sector like oil PSUs provide VDPs engaged in guarding pipelines.
Last year, of the 42 rhinos killed in the state by poachers, 27 were killed in Kaziranga itself, while this year, of the 19 rhinos killed till date in the state, 15 have been killed in Kaziranga.
There are about 160 anti-poaching camps with about 1,200 employees belonging to different categories of organisations guarding the park. Forest guards, boatmen, homeguards and Assam Forest Protection Force staff are engaged in protecting the park.