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Tusker kills four & heads for jungle

Andal (Burdwan), Feb. 18: A wild tusker went on rampage here today. Four men lay dead on its trail after it gave a team of forest officials armed with tranquilliser guns the slip and disappeared into the dense woods near Waria station in the afternoon.

The string of killings began around 6 am when Abhibhusan Kundu, 65, was attacked by the animal, which came out of a screen of fog. It grabbed Abhibhusan by its trunk and gored him to death with its forelegs.

Moments later, the elephant attacked Sarat Kundu, 55, who was standing beside a pond barely 500 meters from where the first man was killed.

Villagers said the bodies were smashed and it was difficult to identify them.

The marauding tusker then took the Andal Station Road. Four kilometres from Srirampur, the elephant switched tracks and entered a paddyfield where it crushed to death Jiban Mondol, 32.

As panicky villagers began gathering around the bodies, the tusker chose to follow the railway tracks moving south towards Durgapur. The last victim was Dharamdas Rao, 40, a railway employee who was returning from the east signal cabin of the Durgapur Steel Plant coal siding after finishing night shift.

The tusker attacked Rao when a speeding vehicle went past it blaring its horns. Witnesses said the bull elephant flung Rao in the air. He died on the spot.

Divisional forest officer, Durgapur, G.B. Roy, arrived in the afternoon with about 35 others armed with sirens, drums and crackers to drive the animal west, towards the jungles of Bankura.

“It seems the elephant was one of the solitary bulls that roam Bankura, Purulia and Midnapore, but we do not know why it went wild,” said Roy.

Residents of Diknala and Srirampur blocked GT Road for several hours demanding compensation for the next of kin of the dead and protesting the forest department’s “inefficiency”.

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