A large number of local people converged at the Kaziranga National Park on Friday and demanded permission to fish in the natural waterbodies as community fishing is an integral part of the upcoming 'Magh Bihu' festival, officials said. The people, however, dispersed peacefully after a few hours as the authorities remained firm on the ban on fishing, they added.
Golaghat District Magistrate P Uday Praveen had promulgated prohibitory orders on Tuesday under Section 144 of CrPC in the Park, under which "...illegal entry and community fishing in beels, rivers and wetlands in the Kaziranga National Park under Golaghat district is prohibited with immediate effect."
Officials said over 100 people from neighbouring areas gathered on NH 715 that passes through the Park since 5 AM and demanded that they be allowed to fish as it had been a tradition to catch fish for the 'Magh Bihu Uruka' feast from Kaziranga beels. "We have orders in place that prohibit fishing and congregation of people. We requested the people to leave. They finally dispersed on their own after a few hours," the officials said.
They apprehend that the locals may try to gather again on Saturday, with the Uruka feast slated for Saturday night, and have urged the public to abide by the orders. Besides Forest personnel, police and para-military forces were deployed in the area to ensure no law and order situation.
The 430 sq km Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known globally for its one-horned rhinos. It is also home to tigers, elephants, deer, wild boars and several bird species. Illegal entry into the park and destruction of wildlife is a cognizable and non-bailable offence under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Praveen said in his order.
Besides, the congregation of a huge number of people during the community fishing may lead to traffic congestion on the National Highway-715, he added. Magh Bihu, also called Bhogali Bihu, is a festival marking the end of the harvesting season. With full granaries bringing joy to the people, feasting lasts for almost a week, beginning on Uruka, which is observed one day before Sankranti.