The visiting cultural contingent from Congo to the annual Surajkund Mela had some tense moments on Thursday night and Friday morning when Haryana wildlife department officials raided their hotel, suspecting that they had used animals’ skin and horns while performing during the opening ceremony.
The search, however, yielded nothing and it turned out the visiting troupe was wearing fake animal skin. The wildlife department had conducted the raid on a complaint from the NGO, People For Animals.
Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar was among many other dignitaries who had watched cultural performances by artistes from different Indian states and abroad, including Congo, on Wednesday.
The artistes from Congo were the first to go on stage after the inaugural ceremony and when the performance was going on, rumours arose that they were wearing clothes made of animal skin and horns. The department officials rushed to the Surajkund Mela ground and started looking for the Congo artistes. “When we reached
Surajkund Mela campus, we were told they had already left for the Haryana Tourism hotel in Faridabad and our team rushed there late on Thursday night,” said Del Chand Sagar, inspector, wildlife department, Haryana. “We checked their belongings and the clothes that they were wearing, but could not find anything objectionable under the law,” he said. He said their team again visited Surajkund Mela the next day and searched them.
“We again checked them thoroughly at the mela venue despite resistance from the Haryana Tourism officials, but we could not find anything objectionable,” Sagar said.
He said it seems the Congo artistes were wearing fake animal skin that is easily available in market. “But the artists will remain under our scanner till February 15 when the fair closes,” Sagar said.
Surajkund officials confirmed the news. “Wildlife officials visited Surajkund Mela campus and searched the Congo artists,” said Rajesh Joon, a Surajkund official. “Their doubt was cleared,” he added.
In all, 12 artistes and craftsmen from Congo are participating in the fair.