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NH-33 blockade

Hazaribagh, Nov. 7: Residents of Ichak blockaded NH-33 for three hours this afternoon demanding forest officials chase away a herd of 24 wild elephants that has unleashed a reign of terror in several villages.

Led by state secretary of Janata Dal(United) Bateshwar Prasad Mehta, over 500 protesters raised slogans against the forest department, even as traffic movement was hampered on Ranchi-Patna highway between 1pm to 4pm.

Conservator of forest Sunil Kumar rushed to the spot and talked to villagers, promising that a team from Bankura, Bengal, would reach Hazaribagh tomorrow.

The protesters lifted the blockade after he promised adequate compensation to victims who had suffered losses as a result of the marauding herd that has damaged houses and crops.

Sources said that after entering Hazaribagh 12 days ago via Giridih, Dumka, Jamtara and Dhanbad, the herd had damaged 45 houses in Barkatha, Tatijharia and Ichak blocks and also killed one individual. Villages such as Murtiya, Fafundi and Madpa in Ichak, have borne the brunt of the elephant attacks.

In Murtiya, a hamlet situated 35km from the district headquarters, all the 22 families of the village have moved to Fafundi, as the herd is anchored in a nearby forest. The elephants have so far damaged 20 houses and a school, besides devouring foodgrains meant for midday meals.