Police get clean chit in leopard’s killing
‘Animal Was Killed In Good Faith’
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Jan 31: Wildlife Department has exonerated police in the killing of a leopard in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district earlier this month saying it took the extreme step in “good faith.”
The leopard was shot dead by police in Purchoo village of Pulwama district after it had reportedly injured some civilians. However, the video grabs on various social networking websites showed a policeman firing indiscriminately from point-blank range on the leopard trapped in a shed.
The incident had evoked severe criticism from the wildlife lovers forcing the wildlife authorities to file a formal complaint against the accused cops and initiate a probe to establish the circumstances which led to the leopard’s killing.
The Wildlife Warden, south Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmad Parasa, who conducted the inquiry, told Greater Kashmir that the findings had been forwarded to the Chief Wildlife Warden and Conservator of Forests for opinion.
Parasa said he separately recorded statements of the villagers and the policemen who were present on the spot. “The statements corroborate that police took the extreme step of killing the leopard due to public pressure. Inquiry revealed that the leopard had taken shelter in a shed which was surrounded by hundreds of people. Eyewitness said the unruly mob had pelted stones on the shed and tried to set it ablaze. To prevent the situation from escalation and loss of human life, police had to open fire on the leopard,” he said.
He said by virtue of the Article 63 sub-section 2 of the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act (1978), the leopard was killed in good faith. “No suit or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Government or any of its officers or other employee for any damage caused or likely to be caused by anything which is in good faith or intended to be done under this Act,” the Article reads.
Parasa said the police apprehended that if the leopard was not killed, it could have attacked the people present there. “The police was duty bound to protect the leopard. But the circumstances were such that police was left with no option but to kill it. So there is no ground or evidence for us to prosecute the accused policemen,” he said.
Pertinently under section 60 sub-section 27 of the Wildlife Protection Act, any Government official who is convicted of needlessly killing leopard could face imprisonment of 5-6 years and fine up to Rs 25,000.
Leopards fall in schedule-1 and by virtue of the Wildlife Protection Act its killing is prohibited except in certain cases. The powers to order killing of wild animals specified in schedule-1 is vested with the Chief Wildlife Warden, if he is satisfied that the animal has become dangerous to human life, cannot be tranquilized, captured or is disabled, diseased as to be beyond recovery.
“We have recommended that the police should immediately inform the wildlife department in case a wild animal is spotted in residential areas. Our officers are trained and equipped with latest equipments to capture the wild animals. As responsible force, police in future should try to exercise utmost restraint while dealing with wild animals,” Parsa said.
Incidentally, Senior Superintendent of Police, Pulwama, Kifayat Hyder had maintained that police had fired upon the leopard to save the life of a civilian.
“Our team has fired upon leg of the leopard. Suddenly, it came out of the shed and attacked a civilian, Ghulam Mohiuddin. To save his life, our men fired upon the leopard. Though the leopard was killed, the civilian received bullet injuries in his leg. Whole media is witness to the incident. There is nothing for us to hide. We are ready for any probe,” the SSP had said.
The inquiry by the Wildlife Department had also revealed that the civilian was injured in police firing and not by the leopard.
Pertinently, leopards and bears have been barging into residential areas of the city and countryside near the forests. Experts blame increasing disturbance in forests for incursion of wild animals into residential areas.
At least 30 persons have been killed and hundreds injured in attacks by wild animals across the Valley over the past two years. Scores of wild animals also lost their lives in the incidents. In 2006, a bear was burnt to death by a mob in Pulwama evoking strong criticism from the animal lovers.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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