Ranger killed in Kaziranga

Militants-turned-poachers gun down guard in national park

By Our Special Correspondent in Jorhat
  • Published 13.03.15

Jorhat, March 12: An Assam Police Rangers Group (APRG) jawan was killed in an encounter with a group of militant-turned-poachers in Kaziranga National Park last night.

The victim, identified as Janak Deuri, 27, hails from Majuli island. A body of an unidentified poacher was also recovered from the encounter site during a search operation late last night.

A .303 rifle, a silencer, 10 bullets of .303 rifle, two empty cartridges of AK-47 rifle#, a mobile handset, two batteries and an axe were recovered from the encounter site.

The incident took place near the Burapahar forest beat office under the Bagori range of the national park.

A joint team of APRG, Forest Protection Force and forest guards laid an ambush in that particular area.

Range officer of Bagori, Pradipta Baruah, told The Telegraph that there was specific information about a group of poachers entering the national park to kill rhinos.

"It was around 10pm when our men accosted a group of nearly six poachers near the area. A fierce encounter took place that lasted for nearly an hour," Baruah said.

He said the APRG jawan was hit by bullets and was shifted to a nearby hospital where he was declared brought dead.

The group of poachers escaped under cover of darkness.

"After the firing stopped from the other side, our men combed the area and found a body of an unidentified poacher," Baruah said.

The killing of the poacher is the first success after the state government launched an all-out operation against militant-turned poachers last month to stop rampant killing of rhinos in the national park which is also a World Heritage Site.

Kaziranga has witnessed killings of six rhinos this year. Assam Police Rangers Group personnel, Forest Protection Force and forest personnel have been carrying out regular operations against poachers who are armed with sophisticated weapons.

In the last two rhino-killing incidents in the park, poachers were firing from AK-47 rifles and light machine guns at the forest guards. There are also instances of poachers firing from M-16 rifles at forest guards in Kaziranga.

The state forest department, too, has claimed that militants were involved in the killing of rhinos in Kaziranga.

The Bagori range officer said the particular group of poachers was all set to kill rhinos.

"Had we not stopped the group, they would have killed a rhino and it would not have been easy to detect since they were armed with a silencer-fitted rifle," the forest official said.

He said generally the forest guards react to sounds of gunshots but if the particular group of poachers used a silencer-fitted rifle it would not have been easy for the guards.

"They would have killed a rhino and left without being detected," he said.