December 2006 News

Outrage Over Kashmir Bear Death

19 December 2006

Srinagar: Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have arrested four people in connection with the killing of a black bear. The black bear has been declared an endangered species under India's Wildlife Act, and killing one carries a prison sentence of two to six years. Police say that the bear had strayed into the Mandora village of Tral township, south of Srinagar, where it reportedly attacked the residents. TV pictures showed villagers beating the bear with batons and stones. 'Mob frenzy' Later it was burnt to death. The pictures, screened on a private news channel, caused outrage. Leopard Kashmir's wildlife helped by insurgency Senior police official HK Lohia said that the incident was so serious that he had personally appointed an official to supervise the investigations. Chief Wildlife Warden AK Vastava told the BBC that the killing took place on 17 November. He said that wildlife staff were on the scene at the time of the killing but were unable to intervene because of what he described as 'mob frenzy'. He quoted local residents as saying that they had lit the fire to scare the bear out of the neighbourhood but it was caught in the fire itself. Mr Vastava said the wildlife warden filed a report on the incident with the police on the same day. He said that four officials, including a range officer, have been temporarily removed from their posts, pending an inquiry by the principal conservator of forests. A local news agency reported that the villagers of Mandora captured the bear and locked it in a cowshed. It said that they did inform wildlife officials but none of them turned up. The bear, meanwhile, escaped from captivity and people chased and killed it.


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