They were on a coracle to catch illegal fishermen
Mysore/Mysuru: Two Forest personnel, who were on illegal fishing trail drowned when the coracle capsised in Kabini backwaters at Gundre Forest Range last night.
The deceased are Mahesh (30), a Forest Watcher and Shivakumar (30), a Wireless Operator working as a daily wager. While the body of Mahesh was fished out in the early hours of today, search is on to trace the body of Shivakumar.
Details: Yesterday at about 11.30 pm, the Forest Department personnel received information that fishermen had cast their nets in Kabini backwaters in Gundre Range for illegal fishing. Soon eight Forest personnel reached the backwaters and Mahesh and Shivakumar, along with Guard Mahadev and Watcher Bomma boarded a coracle and went on the hunt for illegal fishermen while the other four personnel began to walk along the banks of the backwaters.
When they paddled their coracle to a distance, the fishermen suddenly flashed the torchlight on the Forest personnel’s face and Bomma, reportedly fired a shot in the air to warn the fishermen. Due to the force in which the fire was opened and the resultant upheaval, the personnel in the coracle lost their balance and fell into the backwaters.
As soon as they fell into the waters, Shivakumar and Mahesh reportedly got entangled into the fishing net cast in the backwaters and drowned while Bomma and Mahadev swam back to safety. Meanwhile, the fishermen who were caught in their illegal act, ran away.
While deceased Shivakumar is a resident of Bramhagiri Tribal Hamlet in Hediyala Range and a temporary employee, Mahesh was a permanent employee, who had secured the job on compensation grounds following the death of his father who was in service.
No higher officials accompanied the staff
Meanwhile, villagers alleged that only the ground staff went behind the fishermen and were not accompanied by higher officials. They said that a Deputy Range Forest Officer (DRFO) and Range Forest Officer (RFO) should have accompanied the staff during such operations and alleged that the higher officials were playing with the lives of their subordinates. The villagers demanded compensation to the family of the deceased.
The Forest personnel seized fishing nets and higher officials have suspected that the fishermen may have entered the backwaters through Nagarahole. Beechanahalli Police, along with Dy.SP Sundar Raj, Bandipur Tiger Reserve Director T. Balachandra and others visited the spot. The officials are supervising the search operation to trace the body of Shivakumar. Beechanahalli Police have registered a case.