Shimla: Himachal Pradesh government has now backed a farmer outfit’s plan to shoot monkeys at sight as the simians have been causing huge damage to the crops. ‘Operation Monkey’ has already received the consent of the government, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told media persons here today. Less than a week ago, the farmer outfit Kheti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (KBSS) virtually issued shoot-at-sight orders to prevent marauding monkeys from taking over their fields. Fed up with the failure of successive governments in the state, thousands of farmers under the KBSS plan to go for mass shooting on random sighting of wild animals, including monkeys, wild boars and blue bulls from Dec 10 to 23.
KBSS is motivating the farmers across the state to apply to conservators of forests and divisional forest officers for permits to shoot wild animals causing destruction. They are trying to secure 10,000 permits by Dec 9. The government in its notification of March 2 this year allowed selective killing of nilgais (blue bulls) in Kangra, Bilaspur, Una, Solan and Sirmaur districts as their exploding numbers was endangering crops. Chief Wildlife Warden A.K. Gulati said as per the government notification, the area divisional forest officer and range officers have been authorised to issue permits for killing the animals. He said only affected people would carry out the killing of wild animals and the wildlife wing would not execute it. “The department is giving permits to those farmers who have a gun licence. There would be selective killing and no mass culling at all”, he said.
The move of farmers to go for mass culling has made animal protection groups and religious leaders furious. “We will discourage any form of mass culling or the indiscriminate issuing of gun licenses. Himachal Pradesh is also known as ‘dev bhoomi’ or land of gods. The state must uphold this tradition and marry it with modern scientific tools of wildlife management”, said Arpan Sharma, a spokesperson for Delhi-based Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations. Further, N.G. Jayasimhacampaign manager of US-based Humane Society in India said, “‘We urge the farmers to be more humane to the animals”.