Pasighat: More than 300 people from the centurion town of Pasighat surrendered their air guns during the launch of the ‘Air Gun Surrender Abhiyan’ for the East Siang district on Saturday. The ‘Air Gun Surrender Abhiyan’ is an initiative of the state government to dissuade hunting and create awareness on the ill-effects of killing wildlife. Air guns are commonly used by people to hunt birds.
The event was organised by the forest and environment departments at the iconic Jawaharlal Nehru College campus. The event was witnessed by Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju and the state’s Forest and Environment Minister Mama Natung.
Appreciating the people for responding overwhelmingly on short notice, Khandu said, for the campaign to be successful, it has to emerge as a people’s movement and requested all community-based organisations to play an active role.
“In the earlier days, we hunted for food. But times have changed. We have food available and hunting isn’t a necessity now,” he pointed. Khandu asserted that the killing of birds needs to be stopped outright, especially in the Pasighat area.
“We have witnessed the destruction of large areas of paddy fields in the area by pests and insects. The fact that birds control their population cannot be denied. Maybe we are guilty of downsizing the bird population and thus the famine-like situation,” he observed.
He further said that the campaign will be far from successful if people do not pledge ‘not to eat wild meat’. He said that more often than not, the urge to hunt emerges from financial needs.
“Till we savour wild meat, people will hunt. Until and unless we pledge not to eat wild meat, hunting will continue no matter how many more air-guns are surrendered in such events,” he said.
The chief minister also raised the issue of traditional hunting during ‘Unying Aran’, a very important festival of the Adis. “I have specially come here to appeal to my Adi brothers, who belong to one of the most educated and socially advanced communities of the state, to do a brainstorming on the hunting practice during Unying Aran,” he said.
Khandu said that hunting during the festival is an ancient practice and cannot be stopped by any legal or government order but has to be pondered upon by elders and youngsters alike.
“I particularly urge the Adi Bane Kebang (ABK) to discuss the issue on a positive note for preservation and conservation of wildlife and the environment,” the chief minister said.