Assam farmer gets over 3 years' jail for wild elephant's death

3/6/2021

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An Assam court has sentenced a farmer to 39 months in jail and a fine of Rs 10,000 for the death of a wild elephant by electrocution, forest and wildlife officials said on Saturday.

An official of the wildlife wing of Assam's Forest Department said that western Assam's Baksa District and Sessions judge Aminur Rahman sentenced Ranjan Singh, a small farmer, to three years and three months rigorous imprisonment for electrocuting a wild adult female elephant. The judge in his order on Friday also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on Singh and a sentence of another two months in jail in case of non-payment of the fine.

According to the official, the jumbo had died on August 28, 2018 at Kawli village under Tamulpur police station, after the elephant was caught in the live electric wire that farmer Ranjan Singh had illegally put in his paddy field. "The animal had come into the field in search of food but got trapped in the wire installed by Singh to protect his crop from wild animals and died due to electrocution on the spot," the official told the media.

After the incident, forest officials of Tamulpur registered a case against Singh under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 before he was arrested. The carcass of the elephant and the material used in the crime were also seized. The postmortem of the elephant revealed that it had died of cardiac and respiratory failure because of electrocution.

"It is implicit that the accused being a poor labourer tried to protect his standing paddy crops in his field from being damaged by wild elephants and committed the offence. It is surfaced from the evidence that the innocent female matured jumbo lost its life because of the crime committed by the accused. So, considering the factual matrix and circumstance of the case, the accused is sentenced to three years and three months rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs 10,000," the court order read.

It said: "The accused has stated that he is innocent and a day labourer somehow running his family with extreme hard work. He is totally innocent, and no way connected in the alleged occurence. As such, he has prayed for clemency."

Wildlife activists hailed the judgement but said that the concerned authorities should also fastrack the process of compensating farmers for their crops damaged by wild animals so as to minimise the man-animal conflicts.

"Wild elephants and other animals in many parts of the country are coming out of the forest and their habitations after the shortage of their fodder, water and other essentials. The government in association with all the stakeholders must take appropriate steps to prevent the recurrence of such incidents," wildlife expert Apurba Kumar Dey told IANS.

At least six elephants were killed in western Assam bordering Bhutan and a number of tusks seized in the past one year. According to Assam government records, between 2011 and 2019, around 90 elephants died due to electrocution.

Source: IANS

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