A kangaroo court in western Assam’s Barpeta district made three people cough up ₹15,000 for stealing lotuses from a wetland.One of Assam’s prime wetlands, with 39 species of indigenous fish, the 91-hectare Kapla Beel has been a major source of income for the villages around it. The wetland is also known for its lotuses that the villagers protect.But the lotuses – as buds or in bloom – kept vanishing for a week before Durga Puja. The villagers formed a vigilante group and on October 4 caught three people from a neighbouring village under Sarthebari police station. The men were let go but on the condition they face a kangaroo court comprising elders of the two biggest villages adjoining the wetland. A couple of days ago, the court decided to penalise the three with a fine of ₹5,000 each for stealing the aquatic flowers. “We did not intervene as the trial did not involve any physical assault or violation of law. The three were flower traders and had been harvesting the lotuses without permission from the stakeholders,” a local police officer said.