Anger simmers in Jodhpur region where the Bishnoi community and the wildlife activists are agitated over the Padma Shri given to actor Saif Ali Khan, who is an accused along with Salman Khan in a case involving killing of black bucks here.
The infamous killing of black bucks took place 1998 in Jodhpur and the case is still under trial. The wildlife activists in the region, who are irked over the felicitation’ of Khan, are planning to shot off a letter to the Union government against the decision.
Terming the development as an insult to the award itself, activists of Community for Wildlife and Rural Development (COWRD) and Bishnoi Tiger Vanyajeev Evam Paryavaran Sansthan (BTVPS) said they will soon to write to the President and the Prime Minister protesting against the decision.
“It is unfortunate that a person accused under the Wildlife Act has been chosen for this prestigious award, which is suggestive of putting the sanctity and the reputation of the award at stake. We held a meeting on Wednesday and will request the Union government to reconsider its decision and take back the award. Otherwise, these awards will lose their value in the eye of the people,” said president of COWRD, Gurvinder Bishnoi.
Endorsing his sentiments, Ram Niwas Budhnagar of BTVPS told media that Saif was chargesheeted in the court and all the allegations were struck out except the one of poaching of the endangered species of the antelope. “Did the government not find any suitable person for the award or was it a politically motivated decision?” he asked
Meanwhile, members of the Bishnoi community are already unhappy over the hospitality being offered to Salman, who is being treated in Rajasthan as a virtual state guest, thanks to his proximity with the state tourism minister Bina Kak. BTVPS will burn the effigy of Saif on Thursday as a mark of their protest. People for Animals also expressed their concern on honoring an accused.
Babulal Jaju of People for Animals said: “We are writing a letter to the Union minister for forests and environment, Jairam Ramesh, on the Padma Shri given to Saif which amounts to hurting the dignity of the award as well as the spirit of the recipients.”
Referring to the glorification of a “wildlife convict” as he terms actor Salman Khan, he said: “The way state tourism minister and home minister share the stage with him at social events is something which discourages those working for the cause of environment and wildlife. Our elected representatives should be careful with whom they are appearing at public fourms.”