A priceless gift can make you pay through the nose. That two after close to four decades! Ask Bachhu Sojitra of Amreli district. People visiting Sojitra’s house would always look out for the antlers of a spotted deer proudly mounted on a wall.
Sojitra, a farmer in Dhareshwar village, would regale his guests with the story of how he came about the possession of the antlers. He had received them from his son’s in-laws as a wedding gift way back in 1975. Since then, for the last 37 years, the antlers had drawn their fair share of praise and adoration. All was well until the forest officials of the Shetrunji wildlife division decided to pay Sojitra a visit on September 25.
Far from being wooed by the antlers and the story, the officials promptly arrested Sojitra for illegal possession of the horns. He was finally granted bail after he agreed to pay a penalty and deposited Rs 20,000 advance with the forest department.
“In the past, it was a tradition in the villages to gift such articles. But after the Wildlife Protection Act came into force in 1972, the department had given time to people possessing such articles to register them. It’s illegal to keep wild animal parts for decoration purposes,” DCF Jayen Patel said.