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Violence in Assam: 3000 birds slaughtered

January 9, 2007

GUWAHATI: A group of one-horned rhinoceros have taken exception to the regular arrival of migratory birds in a wildlife sanctuary in the upper districts of Assam (now, Asom). Tuesday night, they had launched fierce attack on the trees sheltering those birds, and smashed the falling birds. An estimated number of 3000 birds have been killed in the overnight raze, and many more are missing. The actual toll can be much higher. The organization of the one-horned rhinos ULFA-R (United Liberation Front of Assamese Rhinoceros) have claimed responsibility for the deaths. According to their spokesperson, the birds encroach upon their area and because of their small size and large numbers have taken an undue share of the natural resources, especially food and water and deprived the native rhinos of adequate supplies.

The migratory birds, who arrive in large numbers during winters of every year to avoid the extremely cold weather in their native regions. Many of these birds have been visiting the lakes of Kaziranga national park since past three millenia. Many of the birds have started fleeing, heading back to Siberia. Most of them are afraid of staying any longer in Assam, although the forest authorities have ensured them of safety and deployed many police personnel along the trees.

The attack was totally unprovoked came as a surprise to everyone. The chairman of
ULFA-R, Arabinda Rajkhowa has blamed the forest management for the attack. Conceding his organization’s role in the latest onslaught, Rh. Rajkhowa claimed that the management provoked his boys by calling them violent and referring to them as mindless butchers. He said that his group will continue targeting the ‘outsiders’, as he referred to the birds, until the forests of Assam has been rid of them. He blamed the outsiders for the poor health record of native rhinos, and for the fall of average weight among them.

The forest management has appealed for calm from all parties, and have invited the representatives of ULFA-R for a heart-to-heart talk, and urged them to be good. Till last reported, their calls went unheeded with ULFA-R tightening their stand and warning of more such attacks.