Balaghat: Two tribal women from village Sijhora of Baihar Tehsil in Balaghat district were arrested by officials of Kanha National Park two days ago. Their ordeal, however, did not end there, as they were made to sit at range officer’s office for six hours before being produced in court on Friday. Their fault — they entered the core area to collect Putpura – a form of mushroom. The mushroom recovered from the women is worth only Rs10 in market.
Nobody is allowed enter the core area. We took action as per law. Sanjay Shukla, field director, Kanha National Park
The women belong to Baiga ethinic group, who live in large numbers in Mandla and Balaghat districts. Though the officials of Kanha National Park claimed the women were arrested because they ventured into prohibited area, locals and activists allege that officials of the tiger reserve have been deliberately victimising forest dwellers, including Baigas, who are categorised as a primitive tribe.
Two women identified as Herma Bai and Sukhwanti Bai, residents of Sijhora village, situated near Mukki range of the national park went to collect Putpura, to make a dish. While they were collecting the mushroom, a team from the national park rushed to the spot and detained them before taking the women to the ranger’s office.
Though nobody is allowed to enter the core zone, tribals are not aware about any boundaries. They should have been warned instead of being dragged to the court. Ajay Dubey, wildlife activist
They were later taken to magistrate Madhusudhan Jungle’s court in Baihar. The court, however, granted bail to women, and also told forest officials that they should issue warnings instead of registering cases.
What is Putpura?
Putpura is a form of mushroom found on trees of Sarai. It grows only after first monsoon rain. Tribals believe it grows because of lightning. They also believe that it is gifted by Gods during rainy season.