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Cash prize for ‘fishermen’

- Floating currency notes create pandemonium at Silsako
A youth holds up a Rs 1000 note that he fished out of the Silsako beel at Chachal near Six Mile in Guwahati on Monday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, June 25: It wasn’t exactly raining money at Silsako beel here today, but it was certainly floating around, that too, in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000!

The currency notes, found floating on the wetland by fishermen this afternoon, turned out to be an instant hit as a large number of people jumped into the water to get their hands on the moolah. Some even “fished” for two to three hours.

As the news spread, people from nearby areas started pouring into the Chachal area on the city’s outskirts and joined those already in the water. Most used nets and jakoi (fishing equipment made of bamboo) to collect money from the waist-deep water.

“It was around 12.30pm, I found some fishermen running in the mud and shouting. We thought they had caught a big fish or had seen a snake but I was surprised to see them collecting currency notes from the water. Four fishermen collected around Rs 50,000 and they shared the money. Soon many others from nearby areas came rushing in and started fishing for money. Many got Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 and left the place before police reached,” Dipank Mondal, a student of a hotel management institute situated nearby told The Telegraph.

Moinul Ali, a young betel nut vendor at Chachal looked lost for words as he got out of the water after two hours of struggle and waved two Rs 1,000 notes. “As I got the news, I shut down my shop immediately and jumped into the water. I had to swim for about two hours and managed to get Rs 2,000,” Ali said as he waved the wet notes in front of TV cameras.

The Silsako beel had suddenly turned into sea of curious residents who jostled to have a glimpse of what was happening. A few policemen who visited the spot, too, were mere spectators, as they had no control over the swelling crowds.

“Policemen came around 2pm but before that many had left the place with the money. A few policemen checked the money from the collectors and returned them,” said another student Pulin Payeng. Classes of the hotel management institute were also cancelled, as students came out to join the swelling crowd.

Many among the crowd, however, suspected that notes floating on the water were black money.

Tapan Kalita, a local resident, expressed concern over police inaction in handling the situation. “I don’t understand why the police did not cordon off the area and stop people from pocketing the money,” he said.

Senior superintendent of police (city) Apurba Jiban Baruah, too, suspected that the notes were black money. “We have collected samples and will take help of the Reserve Bank of India to find out whose money it could be.”

He said someone might have hidden the money in the water body and as the water level increased, the notes might have floated out.