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

Magh Bihu celebrated in Mumbai

25 Jan 2009 - 10:06pm | editor
Assam Association, Mumbai thanks all of you for successful celebration of Magh Bihu2009 at Assam Bhawan,Vashi on 24th January,2009.Inauguration and lighting of diya by Rupanjali Baruah(Ex.President...

First phase election training held for 65 Kalaigaon LAC

24 Mar 2011 - 12:49am | Jayanta Kumar Das
The District Election Office,Darrang organised the first phase training session for the designated presiding officers and first polling officers of 65 Kalaigaon LAC at Kalaigaon HS School on March 23...

One dies in road accident

20 May 2017 - 11:47pm | Ranjanjyoti Mahanta
One motorcyclist died on the spot  and another Critically injured in a road accident on the Nagaon-Dhing road near Bhetiani, Batadrava on Saturday afternoon. The accident took place when a mni...

Workshop on Community Based Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Anticipation held

24 Oct 2022 - 8:42am | Sumi Buragohain
A workshop on 'Community Based Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Anticipation' was held in Jorhat on October 20. The day-long event aimed to educate participants on proactive, faster, and more...

Other Contents by Author

Promising young activist and scholar Prodyut Bora will deliver GPC Lecture tomorrow (Jan 1, 2014) at 3 pm in the Guwahati Press Club (GPC) auditorium. An IIM graduate and presently a national executive member of Bharatiya Janata Party, Bora is scheduled to speak about the role of youths in the political sphere of India in the coming days.Bora, who studied successively at Rashtriya Indian Military (Dehra Dun), Delhi Public School (Noida), St Stephen’s College (Delhi) and Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) will also highlight the new generation politics in the country in reference to world scenario.Member-journalists are requested to attend the interactive program.
Prominent activist Jahnabi Goswami will deliver a lecture on the latest trend of HIV/AIDS across the globe, in reference to Assam, tomorrow (Saturday, 21 December 2013) at Guwahati Press Club. The lecture cum interactive session will begin at 1 pm. Member-journalists are requested to attend the same.Jahnabi Goswami was born in 1976 and brought up at Kampur village in Nagaon district. She lost her father when she was just in Grade VII. The eldest amongst four siblings, her mother arranged her marriage when she was 18 to a businessman of Guwahati in 1994, without ‘checking on his antecedents.’ In 1995, her husband passed away leaving Jahnabi all alone with their three month old daughter...
Delhi Public School, Guwahati has emerged champion in both the girls-14 and boys-14 category at the recently concluded CBSE east zone tennis tournament held at Taurian World School, Ranchi from 22 to 24 October last.In the final match of Girls-14 category, the DPS Guwahati team comprising Shivangi Ray Baruah and Jyanashree Saikia convincingly defeated their opponent team from Amity International School, Noida by 2-0. On the other hand, the DPS Guwahati team comprising Ronit Bora, Tathagat Tulsi Gogoi, Jishnu Baruah, Prateek Joy Phukan were declared joint winners in boys-14 section along with the Lotus Valley International School, Noida team.However the DPS Guwahati team in the boys-19 and...
Assam Engineering College, Hostel-6 was established in the year 1963 to provide accommodation to the students of the College. From the day of its establishment, it has been "a home away from home" for a generation of engineers. As of now, the Hostel produces around one thousand technocrats serving various places of the world on service to the mankind through technology. The following programs are organized in connection with Golden Jubilee Celebration.Competition on Technical/Research Paper: To create awareness and increase popularity on research and project work, technical/research papers are invited from the Engineering students of Assam with theme “Conservation of Natural Resources”. 3(...
Over 60 media persons participated in a day long physiotherapy...
The city based Purbanchal  Educational  Welfare Society in collaboration with Guwahati Press Club has organized a free physiotherapy and health camp for the scribes in the press club premises on 29 September next. The camp will start at 9.30 am and will continue till 4.00 pm. Organized as a mark for the occasion of World Physiotherapy Day, the event is supported by the Assam Branch of Indian Association of Physiotherapists.During the camp, the physicians and physiotherapists will provide consultation treatment for various pain related problems along with general heath check up including the blood sugar analysis .Dr NN Sharma will attend the camp as the consultant physicians and Dr...
Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) expressed concern at the helpless working condition of media persons, particularly those employed with private television channels. ''Nearly 80% working journalists of the state have to work with pitiable salaries, unlimited working hours without even a break in need and without any insurance facilities'', JFA President Rupam Barua said in a statement. Working journalists, engaged with satellite news channels of Assam, have to perform their duties in a vulnerable atmosphere with low wages, more than eight hours working period in a day, without appropriate leave days and off-days, and with no facility of life and health insurance coverage. Whenever the demand...
Several important issues of Armed Conflict Reporting and International Humanitarian Law were discussed during a day-long media workshop on the subject of armed conflict reporting and humanitarian law organized at the National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam (NLUJA) today.The day-long workshop was organized jointly in collaboration with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), NLUJA and Journalists' Forum Assam (JFA). The programme was aimed at providing vital information to the working journalists of the region. Over 50 working journalist from different parts of Assam and Manipur participated in the workshop.ICRC Communication Coordinator Marek Resich explained the ICRC...
Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) has welcome the initiative of the Press Council of India (PCI) to send a sub-committee to Guwahati for interaction with local journalists on the issue of safety to working journalists in Assam. The PCI team is scheduled to meet the journalists on 11 September next between 10:30 am to 1:30 pm in the local circuit house to examine the matters related to safety of journalists in the State.The JFA argues that the media persons of northeast India, most of them without insurance cover are subjected to numerous threats from insurgents, surrendered militants, anti-insurgent government security agencies and even various so-called social organizations. Amazingly Assam...
Assam Photo Journalist Association (APJA) expresses shock over the gang-rape of a photo journalist in Mumbai and demands actions against the culprits. It is reported that the 22-year old photo journalist went on an assignment to Shakti Mills under the Mahalaxmi area on the evening of August 22, where she was targeted by five assailants. She was accompanied by a male colleague, who was also beaten up by the goons.The APJA will stage a silent demonstration tomorrow at 11 am (till 12 noon) in front of Guwahati Press Club, said a release issued by APJA president Rajib Bhattacharjee and secretary Rituraj Konwar. Journalist Forum Assam (JFA) has also condemned the incident and urged the...