7 Yrs of Rigorous Imprisonment, Fines: 3 Exemplary Judgments May Help Curb Wildlife Crimes in Assam
In a first-of-its-kind judgement against wildlife crime in Assam, a lower court in Assam’s Chirang district sentenced five persons in three separate cases to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 each for hunting protected species of birds and animals under different ranges of Manas National Park.
In the judgment pronounced by the Additional Sessions Judge Naim Uddin Ahmed in Bijni under Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) on June 17, 2019, Somnath Kisku and Dhojen Tudu were convicted under Section 51(1) first proviso of the Wildlife Protection (Assam Amendment) Act, 2009, for hunting three hares, two mongooses, a dove, a bulbul and a barbet. Mongooses belong to Part II of Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the other birds and animals fall under Schedule IV specified animals.
Veterinary officer under Manas Tiger Project, Prabhat Basumatary, had submitted before the court the examination reports which stated that the hare was found dead with multiple fractures on spinal cord and skull, the mongooses, dove and the barbet were found to have died of spinal cord fractures, while the bulbul died of a skull fracture resulting in complete damage of brain.
“Nowadays, offences against wild animals have increased and some species have disappeared due to hunting by poachers. To protect ecological environment, wild animals should be protected for balancing the environment,” said Ahmed in the court order.
During interrogation, Tudu admitted that he hunted the animals and birds along with Kisku by using a ‘hunting dog’. The animal carcasses were found by the Assam forest department officials under Panbari range of the national park.
“The three landmark judgements by sessions court Bijni, Assam, have set an example. No other wildlife case, even high profile ones involving rhino poaching in Assam was able to attract such punishment. This has created a ripple in the newly created first addition to Manas National Park, and augments improvement of law and order in BTC,” said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
In two other cases in February this year, Jay Ram Ray, Shibu Ram Ray and Rohen Boro were sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine, and in default of payment of fine, they would be further sentenced to simple imprisonment for another six months.
On the basis of a complaint filed by forester Manik Brahma under Kuklung forest range in October last year, the accused, Jay Ram Ray, was found guilty of possessing 4.2kg venison, three deer heads with antlers and a tortoise shell. The judgement was passed on February 18, 2019.