JALPAIGURI: In a major breakthrough, the foresters of Belakoba range arrested four poachers from Alipurduar’s Birpara near the IndoBhutan border. The foresters also recovered a tusk, one rifle and six rounds of cartridges from them. One among the four arrested is suspected to be a jawan of the Assam Rifles. Going by the documents recovered from the accused, he is likely to be the primary shooter.
Acting on a tip off, the special team of forest officials from Belakoba range office raided Birpara and nabbed the four from Lakapara Road . They were trying to sneak into Bhutan and hand over the tusk to a person there who in turn would send it to China.
“This is undoubtedly a big catch. We will produce them before Jalpaiguri court on Sunday ,” said PT Bhutia, additional principal chief conservator of forests, north Bengal.
Incidents of poaching, especially elephant and rhino, are on a rise in north Bengal – Dooars to be precise – and very little has been done till now to curb the menace. In the past one year at least seven rhinos were poached in north Bengal of which six were killed in Jaldapara and one in Gorumara. Tuskers were also poached in Buxa Tiger Reserve, Neora Valley National Park and in the other forests in Dooars.
Activists have blamed the department’s staff shortage for this. In Bengal, the sanctioned post of forest guards is 2444, however 1573 are present. The department has 36% staff shortage.