The battle of forest guards against the poachers might not get easier, but it certainly will become a battle among equals. Since long, the forest guards had to suffer due to their ‘ancient’ weapons compared to the poachers. However, the arsenal of Kaziranga will be getting a major boost with the addition of ghatak rifles.
As per reports, 91 ghatak rifles, two 272 Insas rifles, 954 SLRs, 20 9mm pistols and 133 12 bore pump action guns have been procured for the forest guards which will surely match the firepower of the poachers.
Welcoming this development, Rathin Barman, Joint Director, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) told Northeast Now, “This will be a huge confidence booster for the Forest Department. While our forest guards in Kaziranga have tremendous expertise in handling weapons, lack of modern weapons were bit of a hindrance. Now, the firepower of forest guards will be almost on par with the poachers.”
However, Barman advocates also for the old .303 and .315 rifles and opines that they shouldn’t be completely done away with.
“Inside jungles, poachers are not the only threat for forest guards. They also face danger from the wild animals. .303 rifles are useful for blank fires which can chase away animals. Also .315 rifles are good for long range shots,” he says.
Another wildlife biologist on conditions of anonymity, however, said that just providing these weapons to forest guards sans proper training will boomerang. “Every gun needs separate training and just providing the forest guards some high tech weapons won’t solve the problem. They need proper training and management. Forest department is not cent percent disciplined. Unless, these issues are not sorted, just procuring weapons are not going to help” he said.