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Jumbo rips apart keeper

Purulia, July 16: An elephant that walked all the way to Purulia from Uttar Pradesh and was separated from its partner today ripped apart a mahout.

Three mahouts had brought Chandan, the adult male elephant, from Uttar Pradesh, giving “joyrides” to children on the way. It arrived at Purulia’s Ghagra yesterday.

Chandan was kept along with a female elephant, part of another group from Uttar Pradesh that the three mahouts met in Ghagra.

“Chandan and Sadhana (the female elephant) were tethered side by side on a school ground in the village last night,” a police officer said.

After Sadhana and her two keepers left this morning, “Chandan started behaving erratically and continuously sprayed dust on himself” said Rajen Pandey, one of the male elephant’s mahouts. “This is usually a sign of depression or anger.”

Radhe Mushahar, the eldest of the three mahouts, tried to calm Chandan but the elephant attacked him.

“Radhe tried to stop Chandan from dirtying itself. But the elephant picked him up and sat down. The animal used one of its forelegs to pin Radhe down and pulled the lower part of his body with the trunk. In seconds, he was torn into two pieces,” Pandey said.

Chandan then kicked around the body parts.

Joypur forest officer Prabir Sengupta visited the spot. The elephant has been kept under observation by forest department officials.

The divisional forest officer of Purulia, Ajay Das, said the elephant’s owner, Baba Balak Das, would be asked to take the animal back to Uttar Pradesh.