They risked their lives, they were in trail of rhino poachers for days, they maintained a ruthless shoot and kill profile and they are the heroes of Kaziranga.
As the names Pranjal Barua, Range Officer, Northern Range, his combat team specialist Gautam Chakravarty, Intellegience guy Ajay Das and fearless Pranjit Hazarika also of the Northern Range of Kazirange National Park, were announced, they walked in troops to receive the award from Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabadiya and Chief Minister Sarbandana Sonowal.
It was big day for their life, getting recognition they longed for months as they fight with the poachers day in and day out in the sandy islands of northern boundaries of Kaziranga, keeping the poachers at bay.
There were also Pankaj Bora, Range Officer, Bagori range, along with three others who were also awarded for their bravery in saving rhinos of Kaziranga over the past one and half year.
In the melee of the news room, their award might have received minimal attention, but their roles have been immortalized in Mrinal Talukdar’s “Mandalay”, where the whole incidents of their bravery have been documented for posterity.
Because of these officers and their men relentless effort, the poaching in the recent months in Kaziranga have been less as the poachers were either eliminated or neutralized.
Northern range has remained the most vulnerable as the Northern Boundary of the Kaziranga is mostly in the river Brahmaputra and many chars it has created. The boundary is very porous and the rhinos become easy target when they swim across the streams of the river Brahmaputra in search of fresh greens in the char areas.
The award citation said -Mr. Pranjal Baruah, through is tireless and dogged efforts has been successful in apprehending more than a dozen dreaded poachers and has also recovered a large number of arms and ammunitions from the areas adjoining Northern Range. He has also been successful in recovery of a rhino horn on February 16, 2018 and has foiled several serious attempts of poaching in the park.
The others heroes are Ajay Das, who is the intelligence men of the Forest force of the Northern Range in the area and the official citation said that his input led to the arrest of 8 poachers, and recovery of Rs 14.7 lakh between two .303 rifles.
There were also Gautam Chakravarty, the encounter specialist. He had neutralized one poacher and had later led an investigation which resulted in recovery of a 303 rifle. The 6 ft hunk is dreaded for his marksmenship.
The last man to receive award from Northern Range was Pranjit Hazarika, a chowkidar by job profile. But he volunteered himself in every operation in the past 2 years and always take charge of the vehicle. That is why his citation said that through his untiring efforts and persistent investigation had succeeded in arrest of more than 70 suspected poachers in Northern Range from 2016 till date.
On the other side of the river at Bagori range, similar efforts from Pankaj Bora, Range officer, Western Range, Nani Mohan Chamuah, AFPF Constable, Babu Khan, AFPF Constable and Utpal Mosorong, Home Guard Nagaon were awarded for showing exemplary courage and valour in combating a gang of poachers on the night of June 16,2918 in Bagori range which resulted neutralization of one poachers and recovery of Rhino Horn along with a .303 rifle and ammunition.
Because of these bunch of people’s untiring effort, the Kaziranga has taken some respite from the relentless attack of the poachers. So far in this year 7 rhinos were killed but many more attempts were foiled as the fight between Poachers and Foresters will always be there.