An NDTV report, published on April 19, Sunday, titled "No rice left amid lockdown, Arunachal hunter kill King Cobra for meal", claimed that a group of hunters was seen in a video with a 12-feet-long King Cobra that they killed for a feast in Arunachal Pradesh.
In a video that was shared widely on social media, three men were seen with the carcass of the venomous snake slung on their shoulders. They claimed that they killed the reptile in the jungle.
According to the group, they had made elaborate arrangements for the feast and laid banana leaves to slice and clean the meat.
One of them claimed they have no food left in their granaries because of the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic and that they haven't also eaten meat for some time.
"So we went to the jungle looking for something, and found this (the King Cobra)," one of the men said.
Due to the scarcity of resources, people are resorting to killing and eating snakes.
The claim is misleading.
Following publication, the report created quite a stir in the state.
India's Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Minority Affairs and an MP from Arunachal Pradesh, Kiren Rijiju, condemned the misleading NDTV report on Twitter.
"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," read his tweet.
Through its official Twitter account, the Arunachal Pradesh government (the department of information and public relations (DIPR)) clarified that there is no lack of rice stocks in the state.
The state government in its tweet added 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. They informed that around 20,000 people have been provided with free ration till date.
"Clarification: There is no shortage of rice in AP. The state has at least 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," read the tweet.
Following the tweets, NDTV updated their report with the state government's clarification that it has enough ration to feed its people.
"However, the Arunachal Pradesh government dismissed the claim saying there was no shortage of rice in the state," reads the updated report.
According to the report, a case under the Wildlife Protection Act has been filed against them. The men are currently on the run.
The King Cobra is a protected reptile under the law and killing it is an offence that cannot be granted bail. Arunachal Pradesh is home to a large number of endangered snake species.
"A forest team went to the place to inquire and was able to verify the snake had been killed and consumed. The forest personnel had to retreat as local residents surrounded them. The main accused who is from Kurung Kumey district is absconding," Hindustan Times quoted Arunachal deputy chief wildlife warden Umesh Kumar as saying.
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