Nuisance caused by over 2 lakh monkeys to the people and farmers of Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday dominated the discussion in the state Assembly as Chief Parliamentary Secretary dubbed them as "terrorist" and suggested "secret culling" of simians, away from glare of media and NGOs.
Participating in the debate on a motion moved by BJP member Gulab Singh Thakur for a "concrete policy" to protect farmer's crops, vegetables and fruits from monkeys, CPS Jagjival Pal said "it is now a fight for existence between humans with monkeys and the government should deal with them sternly."
"There is a religious angle to issue when we talk of killing monkeys but we must make people aware that these monkeys are not related to Lord Hanuman in any way," Congress MLA Jagjivan Pal said.
He said that as per the figures of forest department, there has been a drop of 90,000 in the population of monkeys since the last census in 2004, but the number was still 2.26 lakh and there is no let up in monkey menace and it needs to be addressed urgently.
Jagjival asked the government to get the stay vacated on ban imposed by Himachal High Court on monkey killing "on priority".
"It was due to media that the issue of monkey killing got highlighted in Himachal and some NGOs took up the issue in court," he said.
Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal also asked the government to make earnest efforts to get a meeting of national wild life board convened and convince the Centre on lifting of ban on export of monkeys.
Replying to the debate, Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri, who was replying on behalf of Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri, said it was a serious issue and the government was following a multi-pronged strategy to save crops from wild animals.
The minister said that the government would expedite efforts to get the High Court stay on ban on killing of monkeys vacated.
"We will take up with the Centre to hold meeting of the nation board and plead for lifting ban on export of monkeys," he added and said that 77,000 monkeys have been sterilised so far and the programme would be expanded.
Agnihotri said the government would explore suggestion to launch a scheme for subsidising fencing of agriculture fields by farmers to protect the crop from wild animals.