Activists allege targeting over tiger-poaching alert
Posted online: Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 0104 hours IST
JAIPUR, JANUARY 20: A state administration demolition drive around Rajasthan’s Ranthambhore tiger reserve has left wildlife activists claiming that they are being made to pay for ‘embarrassing the government’ by raising the issue of the disappearance of the endangered animal.
Threatening to raze all illegal constructions in and around the reserve, the administration launched a drive against “land sharks” in Ranthambhore two days ago. But the government’s bulldozers ground to a halt just two days into the drive, raising questions on the real intentions behind the mission.
The day-long demolition targeted 20 shops and houses, said to violate land use laws. Most of these were small restaurants and shops on the Ranthambhore road. The only names of significance on the administration hit-list were those of activist Fateh Singh Rathore and Bharat Kapur, the Delhi-based chairperson of Ranthambhore Foundation that recently had raised the issue of tiger-poaching in the reserves. The administration demolished a guesthouse run by Rathore’s son Govardhan, an emporium owned by Rathore and a showroom leased out by him to a handicrafts chain. Tents operated by Rathore’s daughter Usha were also pulled down. Govardhan was also booked after the Excise Department found six bottles of liquor in his guesthouse.
The administration has also issued notices for violation of laws to another building leased out by Kapur to an NGO run by Delhi-based social worker Laila Taiyyabji.
‘‘It is apparent that the administration has a motive,’’ Kapur told The Indian Express. ‘‘Did they act against any influential person or prominent hotel?
Several prominent hotels have indeed escaped the administration’s notice in spite of similar violations.
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