They braved bullets to protect wildlife (from The Hindu)


They braved bullets to protect wildlife

Date: 07-10-1996 :: Pg: 09 :: Col: a

From Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, Oct. 6.

Upholding the tradition of the Bishnoi community in protecting wildlife, a group of Bishnois braved bullets from poachers at Samwatsar village near Nokha in Bikaner district this past week in an effort to save the lives of Indian gazelle.

One of them, Nihal Chand Bishnoi, who received bullets from the fleeing gang of suspected Bawria tribesmen, died on way to hospital. This incident, which revives memories of the brave people of Khejrali village in the Rajasthan desert, who sacrificed their lives protecting the trees hundreds of years back, took place on Thursday last.

The tribesmen had already killed a gazelle, locally known as chinkara before they were chased by the Bishnois. In the encounter which followed the Bishnois also injured one of the poachers.

The situation however took an ugly turn when the police arrested five Bishnois even as the Bawrias managed to escape. The authorities released the Bishnois later when the agitated local people on Friday blocked rail traffic between Jodhpur and Bikaner at Nokha.

It is pertinent to mention that Nokha is not far from Mukham, where the holiest of the Bishnoi shrines in the country is located.

The land in the vicinity of the temple is declared by the authorities as a ``closed area'' meaning that hunting is legally banned here. This place, associated with the founder of this conservationist sect, Lord Jambeshwar, is revered by people of other religions as well.

Lord Jambeshwar, born in Pipasar in Nagaur district of Rajasthan five centuries ago had moved to Mukham to preach his new religion protecting trees and saving wildlife. He breathed his last at this place. Now a massive temple, without any idols _ as per the Bishnoi principles and tradition _ stands here.

The place is also surrounded by a large variety of indigenous trees while antelope varities like chinkara and black buck roam the area.

The place also has the Samrathal Dunes which are revered by the Bishnois for its association with the founder of the sect.

The Akhil Bharatiya Jeevan Raksha Bishnoi Sabha has expressed concern over the incident. The president of the Jaipur chapter of the Sabha, Mr. Darshan Kumar Bishnoi, said that the authorities were informed by members of the community some eight months back that the wildlife in the area was under threat from poachers but no action was taken.

The WWF-Rajasthan has deployed its State committee member, Mr. Hanuman Singh Bishnoi, based at Keechen in Jodhpur to investigate the matter after visiting the hut of the `martyr', Mr. Nihal Chand, and to present a token of cash as immediate relief to his widow.

[Excerpted from The Hindu Web Page at]

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