Bhopal/Hoshangabad: Upset with administrative curbs around a mysterious ‘healing tree’ at Nayagaon in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh, people who flocked to seek the magical touch of the tree got involved in a heated duel with the police force on Wednesday, leaving the local police station in-charge severely injured.
An unfounded rumour that a tamarind tree in the Satpura Tiger Range has magical power to cure serious ailments has led to thousands of people from across the region gather at the site on a daily basis.
On Wednesday, the local administration dug up the land near the tree to stop people from approaching it and hoped to stem the growing superstition. This did not go down well with the 'believers' who started pelting stones on local officials, damaging their vehicles and setting on fire their makeshift tent.
The stone pelting left several policemen, including Vankhedi thana-in charge Shankar Lal Jharia, severely hurt. Jharia sustained injuries on his head.
Soon after, more police force was called in from nearby villages and the situation is said to have come under control till last reports came in. Officials are also reportedly talking to villagers over the issue.
Recently, the administration had also cleared up a flourishing bazaar that had come up close to the tree to cater to the needs of visitors, many of whom are even accompanied by ailing family members attached with IV drips and oxygen cylinders on stretchers or wheelchairs.
Locals said the rumour of the ‘healing tree’ has spread so much that more than two-and-a-half lakh people have visited the village in the last two months.
The administration got concerned as the presence of thousands of visitors was creating law and order issues and many were apprehending a stampede-like situation. Recently the local police launched a crackdown on the superstitious activities by removing the shops and disallowing visitors form touching the tree.
Meanwhile, there is no trace of the man who is said to have started this ‘magic tree’ rumour. Roop Singh Thakur, a local in his thirties, had claimed in a viral video, that once when he was passing by the tree, it which pulled him towards it and once released after ten minutes, his limp was gone.
The man claimed that he started visiting the tree on Sundays and Wednesdays. Hence, according to locals, the situation may not have been as bad on Wednesday had it been another day of the week.
The huge footfall in the wildlife-rich region has also concerned forest officials who are worried about the safety of wild animals. The administration in Hoshangabad is, however, yet to find anyone who could confirm the magical healing power of the tree.
(Inputs from Shailendra Kaurav, Hoshangabad)