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Leopard kills boy, mob ire on foresters

Jaigaon, Sept. 29: An eight-year-old boy was mauled to death by a leopard at a tea garden in Mal on Saturday night. Enraged by the incident, estate workers attacked eight foresters.

Rohit, the boy, had gone to his maternal uncle Binod Birajia’s house in the Gurjanjhora garden to spend the puja holidays.

Around 7pm on Saturday, the Class III student, the only son of Aklu Birajia, a worker of the Palasbari tea garden in Banarhat, was returning with his two friends —Kapil Oraon and Kuldip Oraon — to Binod’s house from a fair at the nearby Nidam tea garden.

“Suddenly, a leopard jumped on Rohit and dragged him inside the garden,” said Kapil. “We first raised the alarm, but to no avail. Then we ran towards the village, about 500 yards away, and informed people.”

The villagers followed the boys to the spot. “By the time we reached there, we could only see the mutilated body of Rohit. The leopard had eaten up the right hand, face and leg of my nephew,” Binod said, sobbing.

Sometime later, garden manager Sourav Sen came to the spot and informed police and the foresters. When the foresters arrived, the villagers attacked them, demanding traps be placed in the garden with bait for the killer leopard.

The divisional forest officer (wildlife II), Tapas Das, said eight forest officials were injured in the attack. “Of them, Rajesh Thapa has been hospitalised with three stitches on the head. A complaint has been lodged with the Mal police station.”

On Sunday, the estate manager had written to the forest department for a trap in the garden.

“But we have told the manager to identify the attackers and hand them over to the police. We have also asked for a written assurance from the estate authorities that there should not be any more attack on our employees and children should be prevented from roaming in the garden in the evening,” Das said.

The forest department has paid Rs 20,000 as compensation to the father of the victim. The rest of the Rs 1 lakh would be paid later.

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