Villagers in front of MGM Medical College in Jamshedpur where the victim’s body was brought for an autopsy on Sunday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Traffic on the Tata-Patamda state highway was disrupted for more than eight hours on Sunday after villagers put up a blockade near Patamda police station, demanding compensation for the family of a man trampled to death by an elephant on Saturday night.
Balram Besra (45) was killed near Kumari village, about 40 kilometres from Jamshedpur.
According to the police, Kumari village resident Balram had gone to a relative’s house in Bota, close to the Bengal border, with four other villagers earlier in the day. Around 5pm, they started out for home, almost 13km away.
It was dark by the time they neared their village, and while crossing a stretch of forest, the group of men came across a small herd of elephants, which included a calf.
The police said on spotting the herd, the men took to their heels, but Balram could not run as he was inebriated.
“While trying to run, Balram fell on the ground. Almost immediately the others heard him screaming, but did not stop to see what had happened. In the morning, his mutilated body was found lying in a pool of blood,” said sub-inspector Naveen Kumar Rai of Patamda police station. He estimated the victim was probably killed around 9pm.
Rai said those who were with Balram had informed his family right away about what had happened but no one dared to venture back into the forest at night knowing that the herd was around.
It was only on Sunday morning that the villagers started the search, only to come across Balram’s body.
Forest department sources said they had found footprints of an adult elephant near the victim’s body, suggesting that the deceased had been trampled to death. The nature of his injuries also suggested the same.
Sub-inspector Rai said the police were informed about the incident in the morning.
The forest department was immediately informed so that the family could receive compensation at the earliest.
“But before any forest official could arrive, agitated villagers put up a blockade near the police station, demanding compensation,” said Rai.
Divisional forest officer of Ranchi wildlife division Kamlesh Pandey, who looks after the Patamda area, confirmed the death due to trampling.
“The villagers should not have ventured into the jungle as it is a Project Elephant notified area. Moreover, the deceased was drunk. Had he not taken alcohol, he could have also escaped like the others with him at the time of the incident,” the Divisional forest officer Kamlesh Pandey told The Telegraph.
Pandey added that the department has already paid Rs 25,000 to the family, and the rest would be paid later.
The villagers lifted the blockade after a part of the compensation money was paid, allowing the police to send the body for post-mortem at the MGM Hospital mortuary.
The blockade, which started at 6am, was removed around 2pm.