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Is it the end of the line for the curious art of shadow fishing in Kashmir’s dying Anchar Lake?

Is it the end of the line for the curious art of shadow fishing in Kashmir’s dying Anchar Lake?

The fisherman hunches under a blanket or, sometimes, a makeshift umbrella made of reed or straw to hide in their shadow from the restlessly vigilant, approaching fish and strikes with a harpoon. They call it shadow fishing or ”tchaayi gaad,” practiced in Anchar Lake in the Soura area of Srinagar.

Here, fishermen work together in a floating cooperative. They catch the fish as a team: other than the harpooning, some lure the fish, others trap them in nets. And at the end of the day, they split the catch equally. 

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Kashmiri poet, historian and environmentalist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef, recalls how thickets of willow bordered the lake which is now in a state of environmental decay. Zareef said the fish swam or rested in the shadows of the tree in the summers making them easy catch. The once scenic Anchar Lake with its see through water is a murky brown now. Much has changed due to its pollution and the illegal building near it. 

StoriesAsia, a collective of independent journalists from 16 South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, seeks to replace the present-day parade of faceless numbers with humanising narrative nonfiction – a largely ignored journalistic genre in the region.

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