A BJP politician from Rajasthan has advocated that all crocodiles entering human habitats be shot, evoking sharp criticism from wildlife activists.
Bhawani Singh Rajawat, the party MLA from Ladpura in Kota, recently said in a press statement that crocodiles were creating a fear psychosis among the people by venturing into densely populated areas. Claiming that people have stopped frequenting many once-bustling riverside ghats – including Kishorpura, Shivpura and Bhitariya Kund – due to fear of crocodiles, he recommended shooting the ones that stray into human habitats instead of simply relocating them.
“Some two dozen people have been attacked by crocodiles. Earlier, people used to grow vegetables on the river bank and mine sand. But all this has stopped because of these creatures, which have become a menace. They have robbed the people of their livelihood,” Rajawat told HT.
The BJP MLA said the Chandraloi river, a tributary of the Chambal, is infested with around 3,000 “man-eating crocodiles” that – from time to time – even venture onto dry land. They enter the fields along its banks and attack people as well as domesticated animals, he claimed.
Babu Lal Jaju, a member of People For Animals (PFA), said Rajawat’s remark posed a threat to wildlife. “Chambal river is the only national-level sanctuary for dolphins, crocodiles and ghariyals in central India. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje should ask her party MLAs to not make irresponsible statements,” he said, adding that he has written to PFA national president (and Union minister) Maneka Gandhi in this regard.
Environmentalist Mahendra Kachchawa said a public representative making a statement about killing animals was as big a crime as actually killing them.
Rajawat has made controversial statements in the past too. When a coaching student in Kota was murdered by a group of students hailing from Bihar earlier this year, Rajawat called for throwing all Bihari students out of the city. He accused people from the eastern state of “spoiling the atmosphere of the city”.
Later, at an event held to mark Ambedkar Jayanti, he remarked that nobody would have raised ‘Pakistan zindabad’ slogans if India had only declared itself a Hindu nation after Partition.
A 12-foot crocodile was recently rescued from a place near the Kota barrage, and released into the Chambal Ghariyal Wildlife Sanctuary. The aquatic reptiles are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, and killing them is punishable with imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.