Bishnois threaten stir if Pataudi is not held

Published: Friday, June 17, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Chandigarh:Worshippers of nature, the Bishnois who consider it a great pride to die for saving trees or animals, have threatened to launch an agitation if former India cricket captain M A K Pataudi and six others wanted in a black buck poaching case are not arrested immediately.

"Guru Jambeshwar, born in 1451 and founder of our sect, had told our community members just before he passed away that in his absence, the black buck should be revered as his manifestation. That belief continues and hunting of a black buck for us is like killing our Guru," Akhil Bharatiya Bishnoi Jeev Raksha Samiti General Secretary Sahab Ram Bishnoi said.

He said the Bishnoi community, which has a strong presence in Rajasthan and parts of Haryana, would take recourse to street protests if the government fails to take any action against Pataudi and others wanted in the poaching case.

The Bishnois in Rajasthan were unhappy when a black buck had been killed allegedly by Bollywood actor Salman Khan in Jodhpur some years ago.

Ram said they would soon be meeting Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and urge him to ensure that the guilty don't go scot free.

"We have also contacted our community members and prominent politicians (Haryana Congress chief) Bhajan Lal and his MP son Kuldeep Bishnoi to help us build pressure to hunt down the culprits," he said.

Sahab Ram said "when you approach any Bishnoi dominated village, you will spot deer, blue bulls and black bucks along the roadside or freely frolicking in our fields."

"Every Bishnoi family creates a tank in their field to provide water for animals in summer months. Though they eat our crops also we never chase them away. We can kill our own children before we let these animals be killed," he says.

Ram says Guru Jambeshwar had laid 29 principles to be followed by the Bishnois and killing animals and cutting trees are totally forbidden.

He narrates an incident to illustrate what it means protecting the environment for the Bishnoi community.

"Centuries ago when concerns for environment and ecology were yet to fire human beings, 363 Bishnoi men and women laid down their lives in village Khajedli of Rajasthan. They were merely following the teachings of their Guru, which said that if a tree is saved even at the cost of one's head it is worth it."

Bishnoi habitats in Haryana are spread over more than 150 villages in Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa districts of the state bordering Rajasthan.

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