Sunday, June 22, 2008

The labourer, his 5-year-old daughter, the bear and the State...

Ram Singh Munda, a labourer, is under arrest and her young daughter alone at home for keeping a wild animal in their house. But the law maybe wrong in this case.

Munda, 35, found a three-day old bear cub abandoned in the forest and brought it to his home. Munda’s daughter five-year-old Golki was delighted. Father and daughter named the cub Rani and made her a part of their family. That was more than a year ago.

Munda landed in trouble when a local newspaper published a story on Rani and her human family. Forest Department authorities ordered Munda to leave the bear back in the jungle. Munda obeyed but Rani returned to his house the very next day.

The Forest Department then forcibly took Rani away and handed her over to the Nandankanan Zoo near Bhubaneswar. Ram was arrested and sent to Keonjhar jail for violating the Wildlife Protection Act, which forbids people from keeping wild animals.

Munda is worried for his daughter and wants the authorities to release him. "They have sent me to the jail. How will my daughter survive? I can not understand why I was punished for taking good care of a bear which was deserted in the forest and would have died had I not brought her," he said while being taken to prison. 

Authorities say they understand Munda is not a law breaker but are helpless in taking action against him. "We cannot consider the emotional bondage between the man and the bear. Since he has violated the law we have to take action. Its now for the court to decide," said B P Acharya, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Keonjhar.

Wildlife activist Mike Pandey say the legal clause under which Munda has booked has at five years imprisonment as punishment but the law must consider that he tried to release the bear in the forest. “I hope the courts take a lenient view and find a best way out,” said Pandey.

The authorities have tried to help Golki—they gave her 10 kg of rice and expect her to fend for herself.

Ibn Live

See also: Can we/Should we depend on the State?

And this: Burma: this regime is good at killing people, not at helping them...

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