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Sendra stalemate ends in hunt date

It’s official now. Sendra or Bishu Shikar will be celebrated at Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary on May 12 — the date announced by Dalma Buru Sendra Samiti.

Dalma forest range officer Mangal Kashyap formally gave the go-ahead for May 12 on Tuesday, setting the stage for a likely conflict between foresters and members of fledgling tribal outfit Dalma Buru Sendra Dishua Samiti, who had declared May 19 as their date for the hunting festival.

The decision was taken during a meeting attended by members of Dalma Buru Sendra Samiti. Members of dishua samiti, invited to the meeting, did not turn up.

“The Dalma Buru Sendra Samiti has been announcing dates for Sendra since centuries. We accept the date announced by it. The festival will be celebrated in the hills on May 12,” range officer Kashyap said, adding the samiti already sent invitations for the hunt to tribals in Jharkhand, Bengal and Odisha.

If dishua samiti members don’t agree, they will not be allowed to celebrate the festival on May 19. “We will again try to convince them to join the festival on May 12. We want tribal unity. The dishua samiti can celebrate the festival at their own risk, as we will not allow them to enter the elephant sanctuary. They will be arrested if they try. We will also lodge cases against them under different sections of Wildlife Protection Act (1972),” Kashyap warned.

The range officer’s warning notwithstanding, dishua samiti’s general secretary Fakir Chandra Hembrom said they would go ahead with their schedule. “We are Adivasis and have all the right to declare our own date,” he said.

Dalma Buru Sendra Samiti chief priest Rakesh Hembrom said they were hopeful dishua samiti members would join them. “We would like to show unity when it comes to shikar (hunting),” he added.

Hembrom, with their adviser Chote Hembrom, founder members Lal Singh Gagrai, Kanhu Ram Tudu, Jena Jamuda and Bende Barju were present at the meeting at the range officer’s chamber in Mango.

Adviser Hembrom, however, nullified the dishua samiti as illegal. “Ours is the sole legal outfit and only Rakesh Hembrom has the right to announce Sendra dates,” he added.