Lawmaker ‘king’ insists on hunting inside protected forest

March 19th, 2009 - 11:20 am ICT by IANS  

Kaziranga (Assam), March 19 (IANS) A lawmaker in India’s northeastern state of Assam Thursday proclaimed himself a “king” and insisted on hunting wildlife for sport, two days after he and another legislator vandalised property inside the famed Kaziranga National Park and threatened to kill a park ranger.
“I am the king … a king does not require permission to enter any part of his territory. I think I will hunt deer inside the park as hunting explicitly for sport had been a noble and especially a royal prerogative since ancient times,” Jiten Gogoi, a legislator representing the Bokakhat assembly constituency under whose jurisdiction the Kaziranga National Park falls, told reporters.

“Let the whole world know what a king can do,” he added.

Park officials said Gogoi, a former militant of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), accompanied by another legislator Kushal Duori, entered the sanctuary Tuesday and forcibly took a boat and went fishing in a river that flows through Kaziranga.

“After being informed that our local legislator was fishing and cooking food inside the park, four of us (all rangers) went to find out what was going on. When we told him that fishing and cooking inside the park was illegal, Gogoi brandished an AK 47 rifle and threatened to shoot,” Dharanidhar Boro, a park ranger, told IANS.

Boro immediately pounced on the legislator to disarm him and begged the two lawmakers to leave the park immediately.

“I told him that he was an elected legislator and if he disobeys park rules and regulations, then it would be difficult to prevent others from doing such acts,” said Boro, who earned the sobriquet ‘rhino-man’ of Kaziranga for his 30 years of service in protecting wildlife.

The two legislators, accompanied by a few accomplices, then went about vandalising park property, damaging a security shed and hoardings before leaving the sanctuary.

Police registered several cases against the two lawmakers, including illegal entry inside the prohibited area with arms. The two legislators had, however, not been arrested so far.

“Did anyone see me vandalising park property? If I say that Boro killed a rhino and sold the horn to poachers, would you believe it?” Gogoi asked, denying the charges.

“I think what happened was very sad and demoralised the entire park staff,” park warden S.N. Buragohain said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has ordered a probe.

“The law will take its own course,” the chief minister said.

The 430 sq km park, 220 km east of Assam’s main city Guwahati, is home to the single largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros.

As per the 2006 census figures, some 1,855 of the world’s estimated 2,700 such herbivorous giants lumber around the wilds of Kaziranga.

Apart from being a World Heritage Site, Kaziranga is also a tiger reserve under the auspices of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

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