The Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Golaghat, Madhurjya Narayan, on Wednesday sentenced Manik Das of Sonitpur district to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of seven years and also to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 and in default of payment of fine, he will have to undergo simple imprisonment of another three months under Section 51 of Wildlife Protection Act read with (Assam Amendment) Act 2009 for killing a rhino.
On January 10, 2015 one bullet-ridden carcass of rhino was recovered on the northern side of Khainala of Chibe Chapori under Sixth Addition of Kaziranga National Park.
Investigation into the said matter was carried out by both the police administration as well as the Forest Department. In connection with the incident, one FIR was lodged at Ghahigaon Police Station under Sonitpur district.
Later, on March 27, 2015, Helem Police on suspicion of killing of the rhino apprehended one Sukhdev Das and after preliminary enquiry, handed over him to Biswanath Forest Range office from where he was taken to the office of the Eastern Range of Kaziranga National Park situated at Agaratoli for a thorough inquiry.
During interrogation, Das confessed that on January 4, 2015, he along with nine others killed the rhino by firing bullets from 303 rifles and took away its horn by chopping off the same.
“The weight of the horn was 915 gm and it was sold in Arunachal Pradesh for a sum of Rs 7,00,000,” rhino poacher Das said in his confession.
Based on the confession, Dharani Bora, the then deputy ranger, Eastern Range of Kaziranga National Park, arrested Manik Das.
It is pertinent to mention that Sukhdev Das, who died during the trial, was to act as an informer of the Forest Department but instead, he joined hands with the rhino poachers.
In the trial, the prosecution side was represented by NN Hazarika, additional public prosecutor while the accused was defended by advocate Jogesh Bhuyan.