A court in western Assam’s Baksa district has sentenced a farmer to three years and three months in prison for illegally electrocuting an elephant.
Aminur Rahman, Baksa’s District and Sessions Judge, also prescribed ₹10,000 as fine and imprisonment for a further two months in case of default. The judgment was passed on March 3.
The elephant, an adult female, died on August 28, 2018, after it got entangled in the wire that farmer Ranjan Singh had illegally installed around his paddy field in village Kawli under Tamulpur police station.
Singh was arrested after a case was registered at the Forest Range Office in Tamulpur under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Forest officials and security personnel seized the carcass of the elephant and the materials used in the incident.
An autopsy revealed that the elephant had died of cardiac and respiratory failure due to electrocution.
“…It is implicit that the accused being a poor labourer tried to protect his standing paddy crops in his field from being damaged by wild elephant committed the offence. It is surfaced from the evidence that the innocent female matured jumbo lost its life because of the crime committed by the accused. So, considering the factual matrix and circumstance of the case, the accused is sentenced to three years and three months rigorous imprisonment…,” Mr. Rahman’s judgment read.
Wildlife activists hailed the “landmark” judgement but said the authorities should fast-track the process of compensating farmers adequately for crop damage by wild animals in order to reduce man-animal conflicts.
At least six elephants have been killed in western Assam, particularly in districts bordering Bhutan, and a number of tusks seized in the past few months.