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My kids are in the age group where superheroes are real to them, and most often, the stories they are interested in involves caped crusaders who perform heroic deeds and save the world. Tonight, I will tell them the story of 15-year-old, Mukesh Bishnoi – a real-life teenage superhero!
The Better India spoke to Mukesh, who narrates what happened on the night of 10 May 2020, when he faced his trial by fire.
A class 10 student, Mukesh is a resident of Bhalu Rajwa (Ketu) Village, near Balesar in Jodhpur district (Rajasthan), who recently showed immense courage in the face of mortal danger. On the night of 10 May 2020 Mukesh and his friend, Pukhraj were on a motorcycle conducting their routine night patrolling in the outskirts of the village.
“Since the lockdown was announced, every night a group of us patrol from 8 PM till 2 AM. This is to ensure that the wildlife in this region remains protected,” Mukesh explains.
It was then that Mukesh heard a gunshot. Without any fear or hesitation, these boys immediately rode towards the location and came face-to-face with four poachers who had just hunted a Chinkara.
Despite the fact that the poachers were armed with guns, were full-grown men, and outnumbered the two boys, Mukesh and Pukhraj confronted them. In the ensuing tussle, two of the poachers escaped with the Chinkara (Indian gazelle) first and thereafter the other two also managed to flee.
“They were four of them and they also had a weapon which I caught hold off, but I was pushed to the ground, and that is when they made their escape.”
Mukesh and Pukhraj continued to search for them for almost an hour after the incident, but they had managed to escape.
When asked if he doesn’t fear for his life, he laughs heartily and says, “Not even for a moment. This is my duty and there is nothing to be fearful of.” In fact he also tells me that since the lockdown, this had been his second tryst with poachers.
The Chinkara is Rajasthan’s official state animal and has been accorded with the highest protection under India’s Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
But since the COVID-19 lockdown was announced in March, incidents of chinkara poaching have increased. And such brave volunteers like Mukesh have been helping the Conservation office.
The incident had been first reported by a grassroots level non-governmental organisation named Ecology, Rural Development & Sustainability Foundation (The ERDS Foundation), who also verified it, “He [Mukesh] is a young boy, having a team of few friends and working for Wildlife Conservation in Western Rajasthan. In the last one month, his team was able to crack two poaching incidents.”
A case has been registered with the local police station and the investigation is underway.
In this video, Mukesh is seen narrating the incident as it occurred. The future of India looks brighter in the safe hands of young, fearless crusaders such as Mukesh!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)