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Sendra date row deepens

- Ranger threatens to block tribal entry to Dalma for hunting festival

Celebrate Sendra together or be barred from the wildlife sanctuary, Dalma range officer Mangal Kashyap has read the riot act to rival tribal outfits who have once again triggered a date controversy over their traditional hunting festival.

The decades-old Dalma Buru Sendra Samiti and the fledgling Dalma Buru Sendra Dishua Samiti have announced hosting of Bishu Shikar on May 12 and May 19, respectively, putting forest authorities in a fix. The twin dates not just jeopardise security of Dalma’s wild denizens, but also pose logistical challenge for the few guards who man the 192sqkm sanctuary.

“Sendra will have to be celebrated on a single date. I have called both parties to my office in Mango tomorrow (Tuesday) to thrash out a solution. I will request them to agree to one date. If they do not relent, we shall be forced to bar entry of tribals into the sanctuary,” Kashyap said.

The ranger maintained that they had tried to convince both Samitis a few times in the recent past, but without positive result. “I cannot discount the possibilities of lodging cases and arresting hunters if they dare to enter the sanctuary (on two dates). We will make adequate police bandobast to prevent trespassing of the elephant reserve,” he added.

Kashyap, who has been promoted as assistant conservator of forest, Gumla, and is holding additional charge of Dalma until replacement, said they were also gearing up for a bloodless Sendra.

Dalma Buru Sendra Samiti chief priest Rakesh Hembrom agreed that their festival would be symbolic just as foresters want, but fumed over the date dispute.

“The decision of Dishua Samiti is aimed at creating confusion among tribals. I have already sent invitations to communities in Jharkhand, Bengal and Odisha to come to Dalma on May 12. I have also performed the puja for the ritual. We will take the help of the forest department to end the date row,” Rakesh Hembrom, whose ancestors have been announcing the Sendra date for centuries, said.

Dishua Samiti general secretary Fakir Chandra Hembrom had his own reasons to announce May 19 as the festival date.

“Why should one outfit have the right to declare Sendra dates?” he said, adding that they would not budge from their planned schedule.


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