GUWAHATI, March 21 - Faced with a daunting task to tackle crafty and well-equipped poachers, the forest guards in the State are now being trained by Assam Police commando trainers to handle sophisticated weapons, including AK and INSAS rifles, as also SLRs.
Following a clearance from the home department, the State forest department has also placed orders with the Indian Ordnance Factory for supply of sophisticated weapons for the forest guards. The first lot of new armoury, which includes the Indian version of AK-47 �Ghatak� assault rifles, INSAS rifles and 9mm pistols, are expected to arrive in the State in about one and half months� time.
The first batch of 30 guards has already completed their weapons training and the forest department is in the process of engaging the second batch. The forest guards are undergoing the training at the 1st Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) campus at Basistha here.
�The first batch of 30 guards has completed a fifteen-day training. They were trained by trainers from the Mandakata-based Assam Police Commando Battalion. The training for the second batch will begin shortly,� Commandant of the 1st AFPF Mihir Goswami told The Assam Tribune.
A forest official said the training is being given to mostly the young forest guards. �Initially, we plan to train five batches. Phase-wise we will cover all the wildlife staff,� he said.
�The forest guards so far had just .303 and .315 rifles which are in no match to the weapons used by poachers, like AK and even M16 rifles today,� the official said.