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Tea garden workers kill leopard
- Big cat wounds three

Jorhat, Feb. 20: An irate mob today killed a leopard that strayed from Gibbon wildlife sanctuary and attacked a woman worker inside Dukhlangia tea estate under Mariani range in the district.

With today’s incident, five leopards have been killed across the state this year, with four such incidents happening in Upper Assam.

Forest department sources said the garden labourers were angry after a leopard attacked a worker, Tulsi Das, 45, last night and injured another woman Alimon Munda, 35, today, when she went to fetch water at no. 10 labour line (labour quarters).

A forest guard present at the scene said the workers were “very angry” after the two attacks and the forest team was trying to chase the leopard to the adjoining sanctuary when two more big cats appeared.

Efforts were also on to bring a cage when suddenly the leopard appeared in the labour line around 3pm and entered the house of Durga Tanti, 43, and attacked him. After he raised an alarm, hundreds of workers armed with sticks and sharp weapons pounced upon the animal and killed it instantly.

The forest guard said by the time the forest team reached the spot from another area where they were searching for two other leopards, the male leopard was dead with its tail missing. However, other parts of the carcass were intact.

Tulsi is being treated at Jorhat Medical College and Hospital while Alimon, who had injuries on her neck and hands, was admitted to the garden hospital.

Earlier, the forest staff that came to the estate after the incident fired 10 rounds in the air when the big cat appeared as there was a large crowd of men and women who were in a mood to chase the animal, sources said.

Mariani range officer D. Medhi told this correspondent the carcass of the leopard has been brought for post-mortem. He said the forest staff had tried their best to chase the animal back, but the “unfortunate incident” happened, as workers were angry after the leopard injured three persons.

He said the team was still searching for the other two leopards to chase away them to the adjoining sanctuary. He said an FIR would be lodged with the police and investigation done jointly by forest and the police personnel.

Last week, a worker of the same garden was trampled to death by a herd of elephants from the adjoining forest.

Assam forest minister Rakibul Hussain had issued a directive on January 19 to all district forest officers to file an FIR against anybody who kills or even attacks wild animals. He also announced a forest official, if attacked, should also file an FIR.