Raiji Vasava, a farm labourer of Sihor village near Vadodara in central Gujarat, had brought his employer’s cattle to the banks of the river for grazing. When the 14-feet-long thick-skinned reptile grabbed a buffalo in its long jaws, Vasava rushed to the rescue only to be caught by the predator which began pulling the man into the river.
As the man screamed for help, scores of villagers thronged the spot and started attacking the crocodile with sticks and sharp weapons. With its prey still held in jaws, the protected animal resisted the attack which continued for two hours till it died. By that time, Vasava was also dead.
A forest department official told Khaleej Times that his men fished out the victim’s body and the dead crocodile from the river.
He said an offence would also be registered against the villagers as the crocodile was a protected species.
The fifth incident of fatal attack by crocodiles in the past four months claiming lives of three childen has sent shivers down the spine of people of riverside villages. On May 20, non-resident Indian Hitesh Barot, part of Narendra Modi’s 10-member Lok Sabha poll social media team in New Delhi, was killed by a crocodile when he went for a swim in the Narmada river in his native village Bhalod in south Gujarat.
The administration has put up signboards at several places on the long-winding river banks to alert people against swimming in rivers.
Crocodiles being protected animals, the forest staffers trap them but leave them in water at some distance away in the same part of the river.
There are about 110 crocodiles in the Narmada river near Bharuch in south Gujarat due to excellent availability of sweet water fishes.
The Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam was overflowing for 40 days during the last monsoon. It is believed that crocodiles living in upstream areas could have migrated to downstream regions of Bharuch district during that period.
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