Kendrapara, Jan 13:
The deceased has been identified as Akbar Ali Khan of Sailendranagar village of Dangamal panchayat under Rajnagar block.
According to reports, a trawler Maa Ahalya of Balaramgadi area in Baleswar district was spotted by two patrol teams of Gahirmatha forest officials fishing illegally near the Tentulia river mouth inside the prohibited zone of Gahirmatha coast at about 1 pm.
The two patrol teams, led by forester Manas Das and forest guard Biswaranjan Tarai, tried to overpower the trawler. But as the trawler tried to flee, the patrol team opened fire at the trawler in which Akbar Ali Khan was killed, sources said.
The crew of Maa Ahalya trawler later told newsmen that Akbar died as he could not be provided first aid as the trawler was in the deep sea.
Forest officials, however, had an altogether different story to tell about the death of Akbar. Refuting the statement of the crew, theys said around 15-20 trawlers, including Maa Ahalya, fishing inside the prohibited zone surrounded two patrol trawlers— Upasana and Bulbul – and tried to drive them away from the area.
As the crew of these trawlers launched a concerted attack on them, some of the forest officials jumped off the Upasana trawler to Bulbul trawler while other officials on-board opened 10 rounds of fire at the attackers.
The forest officials also claimed that there was no casualty.
Following the incident, tension sparked in the district as several trawler owners and local fishermen assembled in various parts of the district protesting the death of Khan whose body arrived at Baraja Bahakuda in a trawler at night.
Kendrapara SP and ASP are at the spot trying to diffuse the tension. “The exact cause for the death will be known after investigation is complete,” sub divisional police officer (SDPO) Nrusingha Charan Swain said on Monday.
It may be noted that the Forest department has imposed a ban on fishing in the sanctuary area in order to protect Olive Ridley sea turtles from fishing trawlers during the mating and breeding season from November 1 to May 3 next.