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Circus jumbo injures guard

Alipurduar, Dec. 14: A forest guard was injured by a circus elephant yesterday in the Buxa Tiger Reserve after it was set free by its mahout.

According to a forest department source, a fair was organised at Hamiltangunj of Kalchini block in November, where Nataraj Circus, to which the animal belongs, had performed. The tusker, Bhola, was in masth from November 13 and was taken to the Pana range of BTR (west division).

On November 15 the circus moved to Cooch Behar but mahout, Osman Ali, said because of Bhola’s unnatural behaviour — elephants are known to show erratic behaviour in masth — it would not be right to take him to Cooch Behar.

The circus management kept the tusker at Pana in the custody of range officer Bhaben Rishi at the beat office for almost a month.

The range officer, however, did not take any permission from the divisional forest officer before agreeing to keep the elephant at the range office, it has emerged.

The circus has to appeal to forest officials to take necessary action. Only then can foresters intervene.

Yesterday, the mahout allowed Bhola to go to the nearby Pana river to bathe.

Around 4pm yesterday, the jumbo started showing signs of unnatural behaviour. The mahout then sought the help of Sunil Ghosh, a forest guard. When Ghosh approached the tusker, it pushed him to the ground.

The mahout then called other forest officials who prevented Bhola from trampling over Ghosh. He was then rushed to the Alipurduar hospital.

A team of forest staff from Jaldapara later reached the spot and tranquillised Bhola.

The jumbo was tied again.

The tusker has earlier injured the circus staff too.

V.K. Salimath, deputy field director BTR (West) said, “I have ordered a probe to confirm what exactly happened and how the range officer agreed to keep the elephant. I have also asked the range officer to lodge an FIR against the circus as their elephant has injured our staff. If the circus does not shift the jumbo at the earliest, we will not be responsible for any injuries.”