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Ruckus over fishing ban

Around 500 tribals went berserk and clashed with police on Tuesday morning when they were stopped from entering the premises of Fishery Research-Cum-Training Centre in Ranchi to perform the ritual of netting fish on the eve of Sarhul.

Six policemen got hurt when the mob pelted stones at them, prompting them to resort to lathicharge, which, in turn, injured as many number of protesting villagers. However, the injuries were minor.

Normalcy returned on the Shalimar campus in the Dhurwa police station area after seven hours with the intervention of subdivisional magistrate (SDM), Ranchi Sadar, Amit Kumar, who pacified the crowd and convinced fishery officials to give them a fish to complete their ritual.

“Like every year, the mob had turned up at the centre around 5am on Tuesday for fishing. But unlike previous years, the authorities did not want any damages to the fishes growing in 28 ponds on the centre premises this time. Hence, the tribals were denied entry. This angered them and they tried to barge in by scaling the boundary wall and breaking open the main gate,” said an official.

When police personnel, already deployed on the premises, tried to stop the tribals, tension escalated. The mob started pelting stones at them.

“Several policemen sustained injuries in the attack and resorted to lathicharge to control the crowd, some of who were injured too. The situation would have spiralled out if control if Hatia deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Nisha Murmu and SDM Amit Kumar had not reached on time,” the official added.

The crowd finally dispersed around 12.30pm after officials gave them a half-kg fish for performing the ritual.

“The tribals argued that fishing on the eve of Sarhul was a part of their tradition and no one should stop them. But when we explained to them that they could not damage public property in the name of tradition, their leaders realised their mistakes,” said Kumar.

DSP Murmu said that though around 12 people, including six policemen, sustained injuries in the incident, they did not need hospitalisation.

When contacted, director of fishery department Rajeev Kumar said this was the first time they could prevent damages to fishes during Sarhul celebrations.

“Every year, villagers would come and cause harm to fishes at the training centre. For the first time, we could prevent it this year with help from police,” he said.

A tribal, speaking on the condition of anonymity, admitted that the situation would not have come to this had the officials spoken to them politely at the first place.

“We cannot suddenly forgo our tradition and stop fishing on the eve of Sarhul,” he pointed out.


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