Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anticipatory Bail Plea Rejected for Anil Madhukar Naik in Blackbuck Poaching


It has been announced that a Washim additional district sessions judge has recently rejected the anticipatory bail applications of Anil Madhukar Naik, nephew of Maharashtra state food and drugs minister Manohar Naik, who was accused along with his five associates for allegedly killing a blackbuck. Along with Naik, three others involved in the incident were also refused the plea. The poaching of the blackbuck occurred on the night of July 16 by eight people. Forest officials arrested one accused named Yasin Shah Gulzar Shah, who was involved in the disposing of the animal's carcass. According to assistant conservator of forest (ACF) and investigating officer V.G Tehre, Naik and his three associates applied for anticipatory bail through their lawyers and denied their involvement in the incident. However, the court refused their bail application and has decided to hold the final hearing of the matter on July 30. Meanwhile, the accused Shah has been given police custody remand (PCR) until that date. All the eight accused departed secretly.

Although I'm satisfied that Naik and his associates were rejected bail, I hope that the hearing set on July 30 would be satisfactory. That is, all eight of the accused would be prosecuted for the crime they had committed. The blackbuck is listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and anyone found guilty for illegally killing this graceful antelope would be sentenced for up to seven years imprisonment. And even though this penalty applies to people everywhere in India, the case of Anil Madhukar Naik was an exception. Instead of being booked under the act, he and his fellow associates were set free after the police learned that he was Manohar Naik's nephew. This gives an idea of how the public perceives politicians and their kin as powerful, compared to any one else including the Indian Army. One person who made this remark of comparing politicians to the army is Kishore Rithe, president of an Amravati-based NGO called the Satpuda Foundation. The organization has demanded a CBI investigation helped by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). Rithe further added that the issue has "become necessary as both, police and wildlife department, work under the state government, whose minister is misusing his position to scuttle the probe."

I firmly believe that just because Anil Madhukar Naik is a relative of a powerful politician it does not mean that he should be allowed to get away with the crime he has allegedly committed. Politicians maybe higher than other people in terms of status, but they are still human beings and should tried for whatever misdemeanor the same way as regular citizens. While Naik's hearing is scheduled for July 30, the next key figure who has recently been in the news for the same offense is none other than Bollywood celebrity Salman Khan. After fourteen years since his alleged offense in poaching a blackbuck, the film industry's favorite romantic hero of countless movies is likely to stand trial after the Rajasthan High Court finalized the charges against him. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison according to Section 51 of the Wildlife Act. The news about these two powerful figures should serve as examples to the people of India regardless of what class, or status they fall under. The wildlife of the Indian subcontinent is vulnerable to threats of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, and the public needs to step up in order to help protect their natural heritage from these ongoing threats.

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