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NGOs ask Jairam to stop animal killings in Himachal

New Delhi, Dec 13A delegation of five animal rights groups met Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh here Monday and sought his intervention to stop killing of wild animals in Himachal Pradesh, a spokesperson for the groups said.To save crops from depredation by monkeys, wild boars and blue bulls, the state government has authorised the farmers to selectively hunt these animals.

‘We have requested Jairam Ramesh to direct Himachal Pradesh to immediately stop the killing of the wild animals and revoke the shooting permits issued to the farmers. The action (of the government) is totally illegal and unwarranted,’ Sonya Ghosh, the spokesperson for the NGOs, told .

The five groups – People for Animals, the Citizens for the Welfare and Protection of Animals, the Friendicose-Seca, the Animal Saviour and the Wildlife SOS – have also petitioned the environment minister to ascertain from the state the number of permits issued and the number of animals shot down so far.

‘The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act mandates issuance of such permits only in emergency conditions where ample data is available regarding damage to crops, life and property. The permits cannot be issued merely because the powers are vested for their issuance,’ the NGOs said.

However, the Kheti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (KBSS), a farmers’ outfit that took the initiative to motivate farmers to take up guns against wild animals, said the killing of wild animals that are destroying crops would continue.

‘The drive against the menace of wild animals would continue. Only those farmers who have procured permits from the wildlife wing are engaged in killing the animals. We have reports that farmers across the state have shot dead more than 50 monkeys,’ KBSS state convenor Kuldeep Singh Tanwar said.

He said the monkeys were mainly killed in Shimla, Sirmaur and Hamirpur districts and the drive would continue till Dec 23.

Meanwhile, the Animal Welfare Board of India, a central agency, also asked the state government to stop the animal killings.

‘It appears that the entire exercise of granting permits by the wildlife department is politically motivated. The board will initiate criminal proceedings against the person/s indulging in any such killing,’ chairman R.M. Kharb wrote to state Chief Wildlife Warden A.K. Gulati.

Defending the permits, Gulati told that: ‘It’s a routine killing as the government authorised the farmers to selectively kill monkeys, wild boars and blue bulls in case they are destroying their crops.’

He said only one or two monkeys have been shot dead since the start of the killings by the farmers under the banner of KBSS Dec 10.

‘So far 300 permits to kill animals have been issued. Permission has only been given to shoot animals in fields. Our range officers are monitoring the killings. There would be selective killing. The aim is to shoo away the animals from fields,’ Gulati added.

Agriculture is the main occupation of the people in the state, providing direct employment to 69 percent of its workforce.

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