Madhya Pradesh: Over 400 injured in annual 'Gotmar' stone-pelting festival
Over 400 people were injured in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh during the annual 'Gotmar' (stone-pelting) festival on Saturday. According to officials, at least 12 people were seriously injured who have been admitted to a government hospital at Pandhurna village. Two people also received eye injuries, said police. Police said they monitored the 'Gotmar Mela' using drones and CCTV cameras. Here's more.
Here's a video from this year's Gotmar festival
#WATCH Madhya Pradesh: People at Pandhurna in Chhindwara district participate in the traditional 'Gotmar Mela'. At least 168 people were injured in the 'mela' (fair) where two villages, Pandhurna and Sawargaon, participate in the stone pelting against each other. (31.08.19) pic.twitter.com/JW1p8vKW5M— ANI (@ANI) September 1, 2019
Villagers from Pandhurna and Sawargaon pelt stones at each other
As part of a 400-year-old tradition, people from the Pandhurna and Sawargaon villages gather for the 'Gotmar Mela' on the opposite banks of the Jaam River that separates the two villages. In the local language, 'Got' means "stone" and 'Mar' means "to hit". Residents from both the villages assemble on the river banks and pelt stones at each other.
500 police personnel, medical officers deployed for this year's festival
During the festival, teams from Pandhurna and Sawargaon compete to grab a flag hoisted on a dead tree in the middle of the Jaam River. They throw stones at the opposite teams as they try to reach the flag. This year, Pandhurna villagers snatched the flag and emerged winners. Over 500 police personnel, apart from medical officers, were deployed at the site this time.
How did the 'Gotmar' tradition start?
The 'Gotmar' tradition reportedly started hundreds of years ago when a boy from Pandhurna eloped with a Sawargaon girl. When they were crossing the Jaam River, they were pelted with stones but Pandhurna residents came to their rescue and helped them cross the river safely.
Difficult to stop the age-old tradition completely: Chhindwara SP
"This is an age-old tradition. We monitored the entire 'Gotmar' fair using CCTV and drone cameras," said Chhindwara SP Manoj Rai. "It's a tradition so (it is) difficult to stop (the festival) completely, but we banned the consumption of liquor and use of 'Gophand', the ropes used to throw stones. We had also made arrangements for medical treatment on the spot," he added.
Fewer injuries in stone-pelting festival this time: SP Rai
"In the meeting held with the representatives of the villages, we had clearly informed that no 'Gophand' should be used," Rai told TOI. "They were informed that the entire event would be monitored using CCTVs and drones and strict action would be taken if anyone is seen using 'Gophand'. However, it was not used, and hence we have less injuries this time," he added.