Far from the politics and state of affairs of Srinagar, fishermen regularly date the dying Anchar Lake in city outskirts to hunt fishes in an intriguing fashion. As another day of fish hunt was underway in the water body, Bilal Bahadur captured the captivating activity
Early morning, old men throng in large numbers to the interior of Anchar Lake on the outskirts of Srinagar city.
Aboard the Shikara canoes, the men carry their idiosyncratic weapon Naarch – a long wooden stick at the base of which dozen of straightened fish-hooks fan out.
The fishermen thrust the Naarch in water with force whose hooks impale the fish.
Generally in winter, fresh water fishes dig furrows near the bed-level and assemble there in a bid to stave off the winter cold.
The increased shallowness in the Anchar results in fishes scouting for more deep water areas.
For the starters, the practice bears reminiscence with the tribal congregations of African deserts where men circumambulate and intone some esoteric words in unison.
The quest takes them to the marshy areas where Naarch –wielding fishermen wait intently to slay them.
The fishermen, seasoned by the decades of practice, intuitively find places where the fish might be hibernating.
In Anchar, over a dozen of these fishermen assemble and bob their Naarchs in and out of water. Repeating the practice springs more chances of catching a fish.
Unlike, the catching through netting, the practice involving Naarch badly mutilates the quarry. The fishhooks tear into their flesh; blood drenching the weapons.
A daylong slog translates into fisherman catching about three kgs of fishes at an average.
At around 5pm, the fishermen leave with their catch only to put it on sale next morning.