The Telegraph
Sunday , May 18 , 2014
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Don’t victimise guards: director

Kokrajhar, May 17: Wildlife conservationists today expressed concern over the allegations that forest officials were involved in the BTAD carnage, which claimed the lives of over 40 people.

A meeting held at the BTC secretariat conference hall discussed the matter after 10 forest personnel were apprehended for the attack in villages under Kokrajhar and Baksa district on May 1 and 2. Authorities of Manas National Park, officials of the BTC forest department and wildlife NGOs attended the meeting.

A. Swargiary, field director of Manas, said the forest personnel stationed at Narayanguri camp were being victimised by the affected people. He said the forest guards had fled from the camp fearing for their life when armed men attacked Narayanguri village in Baksa and hence, were not involved in the attack.

“The forest personnel could not even take weapons including .303 rifles and .315 rifles, wireless and other materials from the camp. Six rifles are missing as angry villagers set the camp on fire after the attack,” he said.

He added that the guard in charge of the Narayanguri camp and other three personnel were from the minority community. Swargiary said the forest personnel and NGOs have been protecting Manas and helped to remove the “endangered” tag from the park.

Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar of Aaranyak and Bhaskar Choudhury of Wildlife Trust of India said the arrest of forest personnel has affected the functioning of the park and the “staff had faced mental harassment”. The department has demanded the case be handed over to a fast-track court so that the guilty are punished.

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