Pench fishermen throw bombs at foresters’ boats - The Times of India on Mobile

24 July 2017

The Times of India

Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Jul 24, 2017, 03:55 AM IST

Nagpur: Fishermen trying to enter Maharashtra side of the Totladoh reservoir in Pench Tiger Reserve, near Pivarthadi on the Madhya Pradesh border, threw three explosive devices when Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) personnel challenged them on Sunday evening. A repeat of the February 2015 incident, where a fisherman was killed in firing by the STPF, was avoided since the forces maintained restraint on Sunday because they were not injured in the bomb attack.

The STPF has been on a major offensive recently inside Pench Tiger Reserve against illegal fishermen entering Totladoh reservoir. They are patrolling the waters with field staff to guard against illegal fishing. According to Supreme Court orders, fishing is not allowed inside tiger reserves.

On Sunday, a team of 18 foresters led by range forest officer (RFO) Atul Deokar was patrolling the waters in two boats. At around 4.30pm, they saw some 60 fishermen near Pivarthadi on the MP border, trying to sneak into the Maharashtra side.

The team warned the fishermen over loudspeakers not to enter Pench Maharashtra, apprising them of the ban, but the fishermen did not relent. They abused the patrolling party and threw three dynamites, which landed some 100 feet away from the boats.

Sources said the fishermen also pelted stones with the help of catapults. However, the forest parties were out of their reach, and they avoided resorting to firing. The culprits could not be identified since they had covered their faces with scarves.

"After the expose of fishermen's involvement in tiger poaching racket in and around Pench, and subsequent action by the forest officials, fishermen were at bay fearing action. However, after a lull, they seem to be attempting to enter Totladoh again from MP side," said Pench officials.

From Monday, a joint offensive by MP and Maharashtra forest officials has been planned. Earlier, in the last 15-20 days at least 150 boats of fishermen have been destroyed.

After the involvement of fishermen in tiger poaching came to light, the Nagpur district collector on July 6 issued orders to the revenue and police department staff to coordinate with forest officials for every action planned against fishermen.

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