Save lathis, M’laya forest guards may soon carry guns

SHILLONG, May 3: Aiming to hand more power to lathi-wielding forest guards to meet the challenges posed by heavily-armed poachers, the Meghalaya government is once again mulling to arm the forest guards in the state.
It is worth mentioning here that Meghalaya’s forest guards are tackling this gruesome crime without arms and ammunition.
Speaking to media persons here on Monday, Forest and Environment Minister James Sangma said that the proposal to arm forest guards is being examined right now.
In the past, forest guards in Meghalaya were armed but the practice, however, was discontinued after several instances when militant outfits stormed into a reserve forest and snatched away the guards’ arms and ammunitions.
“Now that it’s peaceful and militancy has come to an end, so we are now looking at arming of forest guards so that they can do their jobs better. This proposal is being processed right now,” Sangma said.
When asked about the recent incident of trafficking busted at the house of one Assam Rifles’ jawan, James said that many seizures have been made by the wildlife wing recently.
“They are always constantly on the watch and have zero tolerance for such activities,” Sangma added.
Asked if there was lack of patrolling, Sangma said, “It is something that requires a lot of resources. Area of operation is very large. When we look at the manpower that is available with us to really go into each nook and corner to identify is very difficult task.”
He added, “Nonetheless, we have an intelligence network and when we receive information we immediately act on it.”
Recently, the Wildlife Wing of the Forest and Environment department seized a huge quantity of live animals and articles of endangered species listed in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, in two separate incidents.
On April 19, a joint team of the department, Meghalaya Police and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) raided the house of one Victorious Masharing at Khliehumstem village in Ri Bhoi district. On searching the house, the team found 44.64 kg scales of Chinese Pangolin, four live Chinese Pangolins and 43 Tokay Geckos.

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