Himachal BJP MLA says Nagas and Gorkhas should eat monkeys to maintain ecological balance #WTFnews


Gorkhas protest HP BJP MLA’s monkey-eating remark

Naresh K Thakur , Hindustan Times   Dharamsala, April 08, 2013

Perturbed over the statement of former minister and BJP legislator Ravinder Singh Ravi on Gorkhas, the community demanded the suspension of the saffron party leader from the state assembly here on Monday.

Moving a resolution in the assembly on the menace of stray animals, Ravi on April 5 had offered an “unusual” solution to tackle the menace of monkeys and stray dogs — deploying Naga and Gorkha regiments in the state from time to time as both the animals are their delicacies.

Holding a protest in Dharamsala and other parts of the state, the Gorkha community also demanded an unconditional public apology from Ravi.

 Raising their war cry, “Jai Mahakali Aayo Gorkhali”, the protesters also burnt an effigy of Ravi.

The representatives of the community also submitted a memorandum to governor of Himachal Pradesh Urmila Singh, chief minister Virbhadra Singh, speaker of the state assembly BB Butail, BJP national chief Rajnath Singh and state party president Satpal Singh Satti, demanding an action against the MLA.

“If the Gorkha or the Naga regiment is posted in different cantonments of the state from time to time, the population of monkeys would decline with passage of time,” Ravi was quoted as saying in media reports, adding that it would also help in maintaining the ecological balance.

The former irrigation and public health minister went on to say that some of the delicacies from the region to which these contingents belong were made from the meat of these animals.

“In the past, a regiment was posted in Holta (near Palampur town) and stayed there for three years and there was significant drop in the population of monkeys,” he had said and even urged the government to take up the matter with the defence ministry for the posting of these regiments in the state.

Meanwhile, expressing shock and pain and terming the statement as racist jibe against the Gorkhas, president of the Himachal and Punjab Gorkha Association Bhupinder Singh Gurung said it had not only hurt the sentiments of the Gorkha community, but also was inhuman and against animals.

Gurung said Ravi’s illegal suggestion was tantamount to contempt of court’s verdict and demanded Ravi’s disqualification from the Himachal assembly and requested the assembly speaker to expunge the remarks from the proceedings of the house.

“Apologise before the Gorkha community publically and in the Himachal assembly before the closure of the budget session on April 9 or be ready to face the music,” Gurung warned Ravi.
Terming Ravi’s statement as derogatory and defamatory, another Gorkha leader, Col RS Karki (retd) said such remarks by a seasoned politician tantamount to casting aspersions on the finest fighting force of the Indian Army affecting their moral as well.

He said the Gorkhas worship dogs on Diwali as a mark of reverence and worship monkeys considering them as God Hanumana.

 

Who will bell the Cat ? #Tribalrights


At the receiving end: Paniyas in Gudalur. Photo: Mari Marcel Thekaekara

MARI MARCEL THEKAEKARA, April 14, 2012, The Hindu

What does one do when a tiger‘s life is apparently more precious than an Adivasi‘s?

On March 30, Kokila, an Adivasi woman, was collecting firewood with a few friends near Kozhikolly village in the Devala area of Gudalur taluk, 50 km below Udhagamandalam, when she was charged by an angry elephant. It hurled her to the ground. Mercifully, I hope, she died instantly. The elephant kicked her around like a football and smashed her into a pulp. An Adivasi who saw the incident said, “It was terrible. She was smashed to pieces, like chamandi actually. We had to collect the bits and put them into a sack. It was a sad and sickening task. We could not prepare her for burial according to our rites. There was no body left.”

A passionate conservationist asked me, “Did they get compensation?” The question angered me. Kokila was a lively, feisty, irrepressible woman. Panichis, women belonging to the Paniya tribe, are independent, proud and they tend to keep to themselves. Kokila was different. She represented her people, even becoming a Panchayat member, really unusual for a Panichi woman. I recall her taking a lead on stage in dramas. She was bold and theatrical, making everyone laugh, dancing infectiously with abandon, urging everyone to join her. How do you compensate the death of such a woman? Of any woman for that matter? Can you replace the person for her family? Her children? Her people?

No one deserves this

Does anyone deserve to die in such a dreadful manner, for absolutely no fault of their own?

I live on the edge of a forest and all my friends and community are passionate about conservation. When elephants break our water tanks, or create havoc for a few days, we accept it philosophically. After all, we are living on their turf, in once-uninhabited terrain. It’s okay to lose a little. For the poorer population, a paddy or banana field gone is their entire livelihood. I shudder when I hear people throwing huge loud firecrackers to chase away the menace. I’m even more distraught when I hear that they throw burning tyres, which will stick on the elephants’ skin, cause terrible pain and is the only thing guaranteed to make the animal move. But I know I’m reacting like a city armchair environmentalist, sitting safe and sound in my solid stone bungalow listening to the screaming and the firecrackers from a comfortable distance while poor people battle for their lives, their livelihoods and their precarious homes.

Collision course

In the last year in the Gudalur area, there have been elephant problems every day, leaving the locals angry and fearful; a really unhealthy lethal combination. Last year, two people were killed around the same time in different locations by two separate elephants. One, a poor Gurkha working as an estate watchman, far away from his northern home. The other, an anonymous youth on a bike.

Even as I mourn the dead victims — collateral damage, wild lifers would say perhaps — I understand the rage of the elephants. Elephant behaviour has drastically changed even in the last two decades I’ve lived here. Every pachyderm has bullet wounds festering and hurting the animal; injuries that have driven the once-docile beasts to regard humans as the enemy. Adivasi elders tell us that they walked among the elephants without fear 50 years ago. Those days are long gone. As I write this, I hear about a child gored by a wild boar outside her balwadi. Luckily, she’s not dead, only badly wounded, recovering in the Gudalur Adivasi Hospital.

My entire family are wildlife enthusiasts; two of my kids were born here. We’ve lived outside the sanctuary for almost 30 years now. I believe sanctuaries must be sacrosanct. I believe we must protect our tigers and our elephants and the less exciting unknown species that co-exist with them. I know all the conservationist theories. We need to move people out. But forest dwelling Adivasis have rights too. And till they choose to move out; they have a right to stay safe. The Forest Department, in order to protect wildlife, should dig those elephant trenches around vulnerable habitations. It’s hard to explain to ordinary people, apart from armchair wildlife enthusiasts, why a tiger’s life is deemed so much more important than our laughing, dancing, full-of-the-joy-of-life Kokila. A tiger’s death mostly makes it to every newspaper in the country; each life is precious, counted, documented by tiger lovers in London and New York. It makes for eye-catching, sexy photographs too. Our Kokila will never make headlines. Perhaps the Coimbatore editions will carry an item: “Tribal woman killed by elephant”.

That’s what ordinary village people find incomprehensible. Sometimes, when I think about it, I do too

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