Protest Dastardly Firing by Forest Guards on Innocent Fishermen at Gahirmatha

January 16, 2014

Down with the fishing ban in Bhitarkanika-Gahirmatha.
Down with the murderer forest guards
Recognise and respect the small and traditional coastal fishing communities’ right to sustainable fishing in coastal and marine waters including in the Marine and Coastal Protected Areas.
Ensure the full and effective participation of the small and traditional coastal fishing communities in protecting and governing coastal and marine natural resources including in the Marine and Coastal Protected Areas.

Sk. Akbar, a fisherman from Shailendranagar village of Dangmangla Gram Panchayet of Rajnagar Block of Kendrapara District of Odisha was shot dead on Sunday 12th January 2014 two other fishermen sustained bullet injuries. The incident took place in the deep sea about 5 nautical miles from Talachua coast within Gahiramatha marine sanctuary in Kendrapada district of Odisha .

Nashir Ali Khan one of the crew members of the fishing boat stated “ We were returning from the sea after fishing on the sea beyond the marine sanctuary areas. But the forest guards apprehended us and opened fire as a result on fisherman died”.

On Monday 13th January, large numbers of fishermen demonstrated in front of the office of divisional forest officer (DFO) at Rajnagar and demanded stern action against the forest guards who fired on the innocent fishermen.

Meanwhile, Nashir Ali Khan one of the crew members of the fishing boat filed an FIR in the marine police station at Jamboo on Monday and alleged that some of the armed security forces gunned down a crew member.

The forest guards allege that around 50 crew members of 12 fishing boats attacked them in mid sea. They also sank off one of their patrol boats. They say that they were forced to open fire to save themselves.

This is unbelievable that armed forest guards with powerful patrol boats were apprehended and taken hostage by unarmed crew of slow moving fishing vessels.

The forest guards had killed two fishermen in two earlier incidents.

Bhitarkanika crocodile sanctuary and Gahirmatha turtle sanctuary imposed unilaterally by the forest department without any consultation with, let alone consent of, the local fishing communities have shut off the whole of the coast of Kendrapara district of Odisha from the small and traditional coastal fishers. The livelihood loss resulted in widespread poverty, destitution and starvation. 8 fishermen have committed suicide. More than four thousand fishermen have since been arrested and more than 500 fishing boats confiscated.

The struggle of the coastal fishing communities for livelihood rights is going on in Bhitarkanika-Gahirmatha.

National Fishworkers’ Forum expresses deepest pain and agony at the killing of the innocent fisherman in Gahirmatha and demands exemplary punishment to the marauding forest guards alongwith adequate compensation to the families of the deceased and injured.

Please send your protest to the following –

Governor Odisha
govodisha@nic.in
Fax: 0674 2536582

Chief Minister Odisha
cmo@nic.in
Fax: 0674 2535100

Forest Minister Odisha
fesec@ori.nic.in
Fax: 0674 2536665

Chief Secretary Odisha
csori@nic.in
Fax: 0674 2536660

Regards,

Pradip Chatterjee
Secretary, NFF