A 13-year-old boy’s wish to cool off in the local river led to mortal combat with a crocodile in a small hamlet in Sangli district yesterday. The teenager was dragged down to the depths of the river by the crocodile, and was not seen again.
13-year-old Ajay Shahji Yadav was celebrating the end of his exams with a swim in the river when the crocodile attacked him. (Insert) Locals launched a rescue mission but were unable to find him
The villagers said this was the seventh such incident in the past year, and people have stopped going to the river in fear of the monster reptile. For Ajay Shahji Yadav, a Std VII student in Palus village, the end of his final exams spelt the beginning of the summer vacation.
He decided to enjoy it with a morning swim at the Krushna river. His mother had insisted on going along with him and his friends. She was washing clothes at the riverbank when she noticed Ajay had gone missing. She saw that a crocodile had caught hold of Ajay and was dragging him towards the riverbed. “She screamed out loud and we were alerted.
Along with local residents, we got into some boats and tried to throw stones at the crocodile but in vain. The crocodile took Ajay lower into the river. We tried to target the crocodile so that we could fish out Ajay but we failed to trace them,” said Assistant Police Inspector Rajendra More of Bilodi police station under the Sangli police’s jurisdiction, adding that this was the second such incident this month alone.
A full 40 minutes later, locals spotted the crocodile – there was no sign of Ajay. The incident has struck terror into the hearts of the villagers, who said they lived in fear of being dragged off as prey. “This is the seventh incident this year in the same 200-metre stretch of the river.
Many of us have stopped visiting the river fearing they will be targeted by the crocodile as well. In the past, we had even staged several agitations on this issue. The forest department does not even have any equipment or methods to tackle such animals,” said local resident, Datta Tuale.
Forest officer Samadhan Chavan said, “The incident is unfortunate and we try to create awareness on a regular basis about how to deal with such wild animals. We have even placed warning signboards along the river, but still people take risks.”
According to another official, the department had approached the government to discuss moving the crocodiles elsewhere, but to no avail. “There are at least five crocodiles in the river. Our superiors asked us to give information about which crocodile injured or killed citizens; such data cannot be provided,” the official said.
The victim Ajay was the sole son in the Yadav family. According to his teacher, he loved water and had dreamed of making a career of it. “Ajay was a brilliant student and a good swimmer. He was crazy about joining the Navy. His exams had just ended on Saturday and we had organised an ice cream party for Monday, but this mishap took place.
No of crocodiles thought to reside in the river