Prominent BJP leader and the Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India, Kiren Rijiju, denounced the misleading report published by NDTV that claimed tribals in Arunachal Pradesh are hunting snakes to fight starvation amidst the alleged scarcity of rice in the state.
Taking to Twitter, Rijiju sharply criticised NDTV for publishing an unsubstantiated story about the hunting of snakes for consumption in Arunachal Pradesh. “Dear @ndtv please don’t make stories without verification! I’m dead against hunting and killing of animals so is the State Govt. But to say that there’s no rice left for the people leading to the killing of cobra is rubbish! No one hunts snakes for consumption in Arunachal Pradesh,” the BJP leader said.
Dear @ndtv please don’t make stories without verification! I’m dead against hunting and killing of animals so is the State Govt. But to say that there’s no rice left for the people leading to killing of cobra is rubbish! No one hunts snakes for consumption in Arunachal Pradesh. https://t.co/s07bX1rbEq— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) April 20, 2020
NDTV had published an article in which it claimed that due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown amidst the coronavirus outbreak, tribals in Arunachal Pradesh have resorted to killing cobras to fulfil their dietary requirements as rice has been in the short supply. Sharing a photo of a group of hunters with a 12-feet long cobra slung over their shoulders, the NDTV report said that the tribals have been left with hunting animals for their food as they have ran out of stocks of granaries amid the coronavirus lockdown.
This claim was also contested by the Arunachal Pradesh government. Rubbishing the NDTV report for its fake assertions, the official Twitter account of the Arunachal Pradesh government issued a clarification stating that there is no paucity of rice stocks in the state. It said that the state has at least three months stock at all places and is providing free ration to those who have all lost their livelihood due to the lockdown. Around 20,000 people have been provided with free ration till date, it said.
https://t.co/MrRL56wpb6— ARUNACHAL IPR (@ArunachalDIPR) April 20, 2020
Clarification: There is no shortage of rice in AP. The state has atleast three months stock at all places & is providing free ration to those who lost their livelihood. Around 20000 people have been provided free ration till date. @PemaKhanduBJP @ndtv
The state government’s sharp rebuke had forced NDTV to update its report. The report now incorporates the state government’s stance that it has enough ration to provide to the needy people of the state for the next three months but it still retains the hunters’ account in the article, who claimed that the rice stocks in the state had dried up forcing them to go hunting for the wild animals.
Besides, a case has been filed against the group of hunters who killed the Cobra under the Wildlife Protection Act, according to the state officials.
The King Cobra is a protected reptile under the law and killing it is an unbailable offence. Arunachal Pradesh is home to a large number of endangered snake species.