Skip to content Skip to navigation

Media Mission for a Forest Minister

It may be vital for many to save the endangered rhinos in Assam's celebrated parks, but for a section of the media in the Northeast, it is seemingly more important to safeguard Assam's Forest Minister.

The rhino horn is prized as an aphrodisiac and a cure for many ills in traditional oriental medicine, selling for thousands of dollars per kilogram — hence the demand. Kaziranga National Park director Suren Buragohain argues all the time: ''The poachers are equipped with sophisticated weapons. But our forest guards lack the proper arms to counter them''. Incidentally, Buragohain earns brickbats from the wildlife lovers as statistics reveal that during his term, Kaziranga has lost the highest number of rhinos in a decade.

As the director was clueless about the grave threats of rhino poaching in Kaziranga, the State Forest Minister showed an equally insensitive and callous approach to the issue, all the time preferring to ignore the matter. It finally compelled the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) to take up the cause. AASU activists staged demonstrations on February 2 in front of the forest offices in all parts of Assam to protest against the authority's ''for failing to take adequate steps to stop this heinous crime against a national treasure''.

Addressing the scribes at Guwahati Press Club on February 4, Soumyadeep Datta, director of Nature's Beckon, argued that the Forest Department of Assam had not preserved the rhino horns (with ivory and other wildlife organs) in their custody. Nature's Beckon received some vital information (regarding the number of rhino horns and other precious wildlife organs) from the Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) of Assam after exercising the Right to Information Act, 2005. CCF (Wildlife) MC Malakar informed that only 1,498 horns were being preserved in the custody of the Forest Department till date, a claim many deem false. He revealed, ''We have authentic information that till 1972 , Assam's Forest Department used to sell the rhino horns. We suspect the department continued to sell rhino horns even after 1972, the year the Government of India prohibited hunting of wildlife and their trade by enacting laws.''

Poaching is a punishable offence in India with seven years of imprisonment. India is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 1976, and hence it is bound by efforts to eliminate international trade in wildlife and wildlife parts.

But the hue and cry of the concerned people of the region was not taken into consideration by a section of news agency reporters in Guwahati, who continued reporting the version of the Forest Minister. Taking his cue from the last incidence of rhino killing at Kaziranga on February 5, one senior reporter went to such extent of reporting where he described the Forest Minister as seeking a CBI enquiry into the matter. The New Delhi-based news agency, IANS, on February 5 (contributed by a Guwahati-based reporter), quoted Assam's Forest and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain as saying: ''We want a CBI to investigate the sudden increase in rhino poaching incidents at Kaziranga.''

The question arises as to whether a journalist (or an agency) should ignore other developments in a particular situation, and whether a minister seeking an enquiry into the ministry under his charge does not point to his own incompetence. Surprisingly, the reporter missed these vital points and parroted the version of the Forest Minister, perhaps because of his ignorance. But, in reality, the minister expressed his version as ''we have no reservation against a CBI enquiry into the matter of increasing cases of rhino poaching'' in Kaziranga. Facing the heat, the Forest Minister also rushed to Kaziranga on February 6 to take stock of the situation.

A second story was differently headlined, but said the same thing. Neither reported what PTI did: ''The All Assam Student's Union (AASU) on Saturday (February 2) staged a State-wide dharna to protest against the State Government's alleged failure in checking rhino killing by poachers in the Kaziranga National Park…'' One of the stories carried by IANS never mentioned that actually an environment-centric NGO had demanded a CBI enquiry into the matter much earlier than the Forest Minister.

Likewise, the Guwahati-based reporter of AP tried to paint a rosy picture of Rockybul Hussain, while narrating that the authorities at Kaziranga deployed 100 armed guards to check the poachers. He quoted the minister as saying: ''We are alarmed at the seemingly organized poaching by gangs at the Kaziranga National Park.'' He also added in the February 6 news, ''We have decided to rush 100 armed guards to Kaziranga and to equip the existing forest guards with 200 better rifles to match weapons used by the poachers.'' In reality, the news depicted the Forest Minister in such a way that nobody needs to worry about the poaching of rhinos when Rockybul Hussain is at the helm of forest affairs in Assam!

Amazingly, the news agency AP, based in New York, avoided the public fury against the Forest Department as well as the Forest Minister rather very shrewdly. As for the particular news item, released by AP and subscribed by a number of international media outlets, a serious reader may find it as a cleverly moulded piece by an experienced (and loyal) public relations official on behalf of his master! Well, if a journalist turns into a PR personnel in his approach, even a child in today's world can understand that it is not without personal gain or vested interest. A legitimate question that might arise here is whether a reporter has the right (under the Indian constitutional provision) to project a development with his own personal point of view that could even degrade the entire episode of saving the endangered rhinos just to safeguard Assam's Forest Minister.

Comments

prarthana Gogoi's picture

Undoubtedly it is a sensitive topic and sensitive, reasonable cry of Mr Thakuria, Nature’s Bacon & ASSU. Mr Thakuria is analyzing logically the report of the vested interest. But all protest should not end after the hue and cry. Thanks to Mr Thakuria for his protest in pen and paper. Why not all media of Assam (including the national and international news agency) fight against this tragedy of Kaziranga?

Pages

Add new comment

Random Stories

Women kills daughter, self

23 Feb 2014 - 10:10pm | AT News
Jintul Talukdar, BhawanipurIn a bizarre incident that sends shockwaves across the state, a woman committed suicide after killing her minor daughter on Sunday.The incident took place at Bhawanipur in...

Health camp at Saralpara

13 Feb 2016 - 8:21pm | Hantigiri Narzary
A total of 640 patients from greater Saralpara thronged the medical and awareness camp to receive medical check-up on Saturday along the Indo-Bhutan border of Kokrajhar district, was organized by...

Interacting with Indian media

13 Nov 2018 - 10:03pm | Munir Ahmed
The experiences of many Pakistani experts, intellectuals, journalists and showbiz in the past reflected that interacting with the Indian media is always risky. One’s point of view is twisted and...

Sarma-Gogoi patch up raises poll hopes

31 May 2015 - 2:33pm | AT News
A sudden patch-up between Tarun Gogoi and Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma seems to have revived the hope of Congress hardly a year ahead of the assembly polls. Sources available with Assam Times say that the...

Other Contents by Author

The employees of Natun Dainik, an influential Assamese daily newspaper of yesteryears will remember Chandra Prasad Saikia (popularly known among his follower journalists as CPS), its founder editor and award winning author in a function to be held in Guwahati Press Club on August 8 next. The journalists, who were involved with the newspaper during the tenure of Padma Bhusan CP Saikia as its editor, have taken the initiative to commemorate the illustrious journalist on his 7th death anniversary.Published from Chandarakanta Press Pvt Ltd in Guwahati, Natun Dainik was pioneer in adopting latest printing technology and vivid content with illustrated supplement pages on various relevant issues....
The next session of GNRC Media Fellowship program will begin on August 5. Nine working journalists have already been selected for the fellowship program, which is sponsored by GNRC Hospitals and initiated by Guwahati Press Club.The month long fellowship will enable the fellows to study various healthcare related issues and also a remuneration of Rs 10,000 each. Three journalists will form a group for the fellowship and it will finally culminate in the first week of November 2013.The selected fellows include Rabindra Saikia, Krishna Bhuyan, Jahnavee Sarmah, Manoranjan Bori, Jadumoni Saikia, Padmi,pni Hazarika, Hiren Sarmah, Manuj Kumar Neog and Sidananda Saikia.Dr NC Borah, CMD of GNRC...
Guwahati: Electronic Media Forum Assam (EMFA) has appealed to the district authority to relax the prohibitory order on pillion driving for the city based journalists on duty. The television journalist forum has however asked the reporters, photo journalists and camera persons to carry their identity cards in the duty hours, such that miscreants cannot take the advantage of the situation.The EMFA statement came following the administration’s prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC with immediate effect since Monday after 15 people were injured in a grenade blast in Guwahati by suspected militants. The prohibitory order, including on the pillion driving, is understood to continue till the...
Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary, the former Governor of Meghalaya will attend the next Guest of the Month program of Guwahati Press Club at 3 pm of July 13, 2013. An IPS officer Mr Mooshahary also served as the director general of National Security Guards and Border Security Force in his exciting career. Born at Odlaguri of Assam,  RS Mooshaharycompleted his pre-university study in Union Christian College, Umiam and then graduated from St Anthonys College, Shillong with honours in Political Science.RS Mooshahary was awarded with the Police Medal for Meritorious Service and the President's Police Medal for Distinguished Service. In March 2006, RS Mooshahary was appointed as the first Chief...
Media persons of Guwahati are seemingly prone to various ailments related to pain and many of the working journalists are diagnosed with high blood pressure. A physiotherapy camp, organized by Indian Association of Physiotherapists (Assam branch) for the city based journalists today (June 26) reveals that most of the participants are suffering from cervical pain, low back pain and shoulder pain. Moreover, 35 media persons have been advised for further treatments.The camp, organized with supports from College of Physiotherapy and Medical Sciences, a unit of Purbanchal Educational Welfare Society and Guwahati Press Club witnessed the participation of nearly 100 media persons.Dr. Ujwal...
Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) has expressed deepest shock at the incident of an attack on a local media house in Agartala today afternoon, where there people including a working journalist lost their lives.In a statement issued by JFA president Rupam Barua and its secretary Nava Thakuria, the forum has urged Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar to probe into the incident and compensate adequately the victim families.The PTI reported that ‘three employees of a local Bengali daily were stabbed to death inside its office by two unidentified assailants in Agartala today’. Quoting the police, the agency reported, “The motorcycle-borne assailants barged into the office of 'Dainik Ganadoot' at the...
Eminent sculptor and Visva-Bharati professor  Janak Jhankar Narzary  will attend an interactive session with the media persons at Guwahati Press Club on Saturday (May 18). The program will start at 3 pm.Currently the head of Art History department in Visva-Bharati  Kala Bhavan,  Janak Jhankar  is also the recipient of Pranab Barua award this year, which will be conferred on him by the Pranab Barua Art Award Committee in a function scheduled for next day in the city.
Guwahati Press Club has organized a series of lecture programmes for the benefit of media persons. Under the initiative, Dr  Amal Ke Borpujari has been invited to give a lecture on Chit Fund, Ponzi Scheme etc tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2 pm. Dr Borpujari, who is a PhD in regional economics of northeast India is expected to highlight the menace of various money laundering exercises. Moreover the role of SEBI and RBI will also be discussed.The issue of chit fund emerges as an important area of reporting by the media following the collapse of Kolkata based Saradha group of companies. It becomes imperative for the media to understand the methodology of these companies as they...
GNRC Hospitals in association with Guwahati Press Club have announced the next round of medical journalism fellowship for media persons starting on May 15, 2013. Nine journalists representing both print and electronic media will be selected for the month long media fellowship.The fellows, who will be paid a lump sum amount of Rs 10,000 (ten thousand only) each, are expected to attend regular interactive sessions with the physicians at GNRC hospitals time to time and report about their experiences in respective media outlets.“Media has tremendous roles to play in respect of healthcare facilities to the common people. We expect the journalists to understand various issues related to medical...
A daylong health check-up camp for the scribes was organized in Guwahati Press Club on Saturday. Organized by the down town hospital as a mark on their silver jubilee year the camp was attended by nearly 150 media persons. Most of the scribes have shown satisfactory outcomes though few of them were diagnosed with gastro related complains, high blood pressure & sugar and different cardiac ailments.Paying a brief visit to the press club, Dr NN Dutta, CMD of down town hospital appreciated the initiative and urged the media persons to follow guidelines for better health. Mayurakshi Dutta, Executive Director of down town hospital, who accompanied Dr Dutta emphasized on regular health check-...