Politics over poaching heats up in MP after killing of 3 cops
Bhopal: The police claimed to have recovered the decapitated carcasses of two blackbucks, four heads and a peacock from the possession of poachers who opened fire on a police team, killing three policemen on the spot in Madhya Pradeshs Guna district on Saturday.
One of the poachers was also killed in the cross-firing and two of them were arrested by the police. Subsequent to the incident, the state administration ordered the suspension of Gwalior zone IG Anil Sharma with immediate effect for the delay in reaching the spot of the crime. He was replaced by 1997 batch IPS officer D Srinivas Verma.
The policemen killed by the poachers will be given the status of martyrs and an ex-gratia of Rs one crore for each bereaved family was also announced in an emergency meeting called by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with state home minister Narottam Mishra, the Director General of Police (DGP) Sudhir Saxena and other top officials.
This incident, however, has once again raised the alarm over the protection of wildlife and also on the movement of poachers in the forests of the state. Madhya Pradesh based wildlife activist Ajay Dube, who had in the past exposed the nexus between poachers and the senior forest officials in the state’s Panna tiger reserve, said, “The movement of poachers with arms in Guna’s forest area indicates a possible nexus, which needs to be probed thoroughly.”
Talking to IANS, Dube said that Guna’s forest area has always been a target of poachers because of blackbucks and peacocks. “Sagon woods from Guna’s forest are often being smuggled despite the claims of high visibility by the forest department. But, what is more pathetic is that if forest officials take action against poachers or wood smugglers, they have to face dire consequences,” Dube said, pointing to a couple of such incidents when forest guards were beaten up by goons having a strong connection with politicians.
Earlier this month, forest guards deployed in Bhopal’s Badli forest circle were attacked by hunters at night. One of the guards received knife injuries while another guard received a gunshot wound on his private parts and he is still recuperating in a hospital in Bhopal.
Another such incident took place in Sheopur district in April this year when forest guards were attacked allegedly by Dhanraj, who is the son of sitting BJP MLA Sitaram Adivasi. A police complaint lodged by the forest officials accusing the MLA’s son and his associates of beating them up, is available with IANS.
The close nexus between top officials and poachers had resulted in MP’s popular Panna Tiger Reserve being denuded of big cats in 2008. The matter was probed by the central agencies then.
Meanwhile, soon after the news of the policemen’s killing came, politics in the state started heating up with leaders from the BJP and the Congress attacking each other.
Congress leader Dr Govind Singh, who was recently appointed Leader of Opposition in the state, accused the BJP government of failing to handle the law and order situation and of allowing ‘jungle raj’ in the state.
“In the BJP government, the spirits of the criminals are so high that even policemen are not spared. The home minister should resign from his post,” Singh said.
State BJP president VD Sharma went one step further and accused former Chief Minister and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh of having a strong connection with poachers. He demanded a probe in this matter.
Sharma alleged that Digvijaya’s son Jaivardhan Singh, who is the MLA from Raghogarh, was providing protection to local criminals. He said this claiming that the poachers who killed the policemen are residents of Bidoria village in Guna’s Raghogarh area.
Digvijaya Singh retorted, “I agree. From the Centre to the state, BJP is in power. A fair probe should be conducted and responsible people should be punished for this heinous crime.”
As per the police, the incident took place at around 2.45 a.m. in the Aron police station area, 45km from the district headquarters. The slain policemen were identified as sub-inspector Rajkumar Jatav, head constable Sant Kumar Meena and constable Neeraj Bhargav. The driver of the police vehicle was injured.
Rajeev Mishra, superintendent of police, told the media that the team went to the forest area following specific intelligence inputs about poachers. They managed to round up three of them. However, their accomplices opened fire killing three policemen on the spot. One of the poachers identified as Naushad was killed in police firing. The others managed to escape taking advantage of the dense foliage.