Sachadev Lepcha at the Darjeeling District Hospital. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Jan. 22: A youth in Darjeeling today said a pack of stray dogs attacked him last night at the same spot where another man was found dead with parts of his flesh torn away.
Twenty-year-old Sachadev Lepcha said he would have also died but for the intervention of the residents of Toongsoong, who heard his cries for help when the dogs set upon him.
Lepcha was admitted to the Darjeeling district hospital with bite marks all over his body. A doctor of the hospital confirmed that Lepcha had been bitten by more than one dog.
Lepcha, who works in a hotel in Siliguri and had come to Darjeeling yesterday, said from the hospital bed: “I was returning home around 11.15pm when a pack of eight dogs started barking at me. They soon attacked me from all sides.”
Lepcha’s jeans were torn and his hand was badly bitten. When he fell to the ground, the dogs attacked his neck. “I started crying for help loudly. I saw local residents come out of their houses. I could see some throwing water at the dogs. But the animals continued to attack me. Then people came and chased away the dogs by throwing stones at them,” he said.
Lepcha, a resident of Laden-la Road in Darjeeling, was administered anti-rabies vaccine.
“The patient was admitted with multiple dog bites. We have given him the anti-rabies vaccination and his condition is stable. The patient seems to have been attacked by a pack of dogs,” said Dr R. Ghosh, the superintendent of the district hospital.
The road in Toonsoong where Lepcha was attacked is the place where 11 days ago, 47-year-old Chengba Sherpa was found dead. The flesh of some parts of his body seemed to have been torn away.
The death on January 11 made many residents suspect that a leopard, seen in the area earlier, was on the prowl. Toonsoong is just over a kilometre from the Mall, the spot where almost all tourists to Darjeeling hang out.
In order to catch the leopard, a cage was laid and goats were kept inside as bait twice. In both instances, the goat was found dead and partially eaten. The CCTV cameras near the cage captured stray dogs.
After last night’s attack, many residents want the municipality to kill the dogs.
“Human life is more precious than stray dogs. Animal activists who are against killing of dogs should keep these dogs in their houses. The place has become totally unsafe,” said a resident.
The Darjeeling municipality, which had stopped the killing of stray dogs and started sterilising the animals with the help of NGOs, seemed to have woken up to the gravity of the canine menace.
Suk Bahadur Biswakarma, the vice-chairman of the Darjeeling municipality, said: “Human lives are precious. We cannot also just catch the dogs and take them to some other place as the animals seem to have started attacking human beings.”
The municipality has decided to call a meeting soon with the district administration to find a solution to the problem.
The Darjeeling town is estimated to have more than 1,000 stray dogs.