Villagers attacked the police and forest rangers today in the Chhan forest area of Rajasthan when the joint team reached the Phalodi range of the Ranthambore tiger project to arrest the poachers whom the cops were able to track down. The stunned police had to save their lives by firing in the air.
Six forest workers were injured in this sudden attack. Twelve villagers are reported to be injured too. The teams of the two departments had reached the spot at 5 in the morning.
Later in the evening, two hunters, Asaar and Sunef alias Kailu, residents of Jaitpura, surrendered at Bodal Naka along with their locally made guns. They were immediately arrested.
Omprakash Koli, the Phaladi ranger, has filed a case against about 500 women and men, including 29 named hunters, at the Khandar police station.
According to ASP Dharmendra Yadav and DFO Mukesh Saini, since the hunters were identified with the help of some public representatives, the police wanted to make the hunters surrender, but the suspects were repeatedly bluffing instead of surrendering. The police had planned to catch the poachers on the instructions of high officials.
The forest department had found the attached photo nine days after the hunt when the forest department checked the chip of the camera trap. The poachers were seen carrying the corpse of a deer they had killed.
The gang comprised tiger hunters too.
The photo leaked. A complaint reached the chief minister. Following an uproar in the department, an FIR was registered that named five inhabitants of the Jaitpura village.
Police and forest department raided the village first on 11 February, but the culprits were not found.
Again at 5 in the morning on Thursday, they nabbed two villagers after warning them to surrender. It was around this time that the villagers attacked the team, pelting stones at them. Police and Forest Department employees were injured.
This region often witnesses incidents of tiger hunting. Twenty-six tigers went missing in Ranthambore in the last nine years. Recently, a confidential report was sent to the government but no one has been held accountable for unmitigated poaching in the area.
Officers treat tourism in the area as a generator of some extra income with impunity. As of now, none from the chief wildlife warden to the forest minister appears moved by rampant tiger-hunting.