Miscreants have killed a sizeable number of birds in Jatinga, a tribal village in Assam’s Dima Hasao district that is known for its “bird suicide” mystery, prompting the administration to impose Section 144 of the CrPc even as the police look for a Brazilian suspect who was allegedly paying villagers to catch birds for him.
“On Sunday night we got information that some people had killed some birds that had arrived in the village. On rushing there we recovered corpses of nine birds of various species, but the miscreants disappeared taking advantage of the darkness. Local villagers said a foreigner, believed to be a Brazilian national, had come a few days ago and was offering cash to village boys to catch birds for him,” Tuhin Langthasa, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) of the Haflong range, said.
Langthasa got an FIR lodged at Haflong police station. “The Brazilian national also threatened lower level forest staff to help him catch birds for a documentary, for which he claimed he had obtained permission from our top officers, which turned out to be false,” Langthasa said. The ACF seized some bamboo poles, sticks and nets that were used for catching the birds.
“We are not sure how many birds have actually been killed in Jatinga in the last few days. With the evenings becoming foggy, more birds are rushing to Jatinga, particularly getting attracted by bright lights, and miscreants are catching and killing them despite an awareness campaign we launched along with the village youth,” MN Duarah, chief conservator of forest (CCF) for Assam’s three hill districts, said. Dima Hasao Deputy Commissioner DJ Hazarika, who visited Jatinga on Wednesday, banned movement of people with sticks, nets and other items used for trapping birds. He also banned use of flash, halogen and search lights in the village.
“A large number of birds of different species are migrating to Dima Hasao district, mostly concentrating in Jatinga and Tumbung villages. While the arrival of birds during winters attracts tourists to these villages, it is very important to ensure protection of the birds,” Hazarika said.
Jatinga is about 10 km from Haflong, Assam’s only hill station, and is known for its strange phenomenon of birds getting attracted to bright lamps on foggy winter evenings. Inhabited by the Jaintia tribe, Jatinga is a major spot for bird-watchers. “The arrival of birds in our village is a god-given gift which also gets us tourists. The tourists bring us money as our people sell hand-woven fabrics, various handicraft items and fruits. If the birds are killed, Jatinga will lose its importance,” said External Siangshai, a villager.