Aizawl, Sept. 25: Gecko hunters crash-landed into the pulpit of a church in Serchhip district while attempting to catch the reptiles in a bid to make a quick buck yesterday morning, “defiling” the sanctum, according to local police.
Churchgoers said the ceiling above the pulpit area had been broken through and the Bible was lying on the floor among the debris. Church authorities and Serchhip police station were informed.
The police, however, rejected the “Satanists did it” theory that was doing the rounds, giving more credence to the mess being caused by a misadventure of some gecko-hunting men who are known to ferret around in places where these lizards are spotted.
The police believe that the miscreants must have sustained injuries, as the fall from the ceiling was about 20 feet. No arrests have been made so far.
For the past few months, the reptile, locally known as awke, has drawn attention of locals as the lizard is finding buyers in Myanmar and Assam. They are believed to smuggle the animal out to Southeast Asian countries, mostly through Myanmar, where local traditional medicinal lore attributes it with powerful healing qualities, including a cure for HIV/AIDS.
The reptile is a common sight in many parts of the state and a guest or visitor in many homes. The idea of capturing these lizards to sell them for a fat price to buyers is turning many into gecko hunters.
Recently, the government had issued a public notice terming this as superstition but it failed to serve its purpose as there are buyers around who are willing to pay about Rs 4,000 for a reasonably sized reptile.
The hunters are driving local forest officials into a tizzy as forest offices, particularly in Champhai district bordering Mynamar, are inundated with reports of groups of such men armed with torches moving around in the night to capture the reptile.