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Jumbo raid

Alipurduar, Dec. 12: A group of elephants raided a village adjacent to the South Khayerbari forest last night and destroyed six huts, prompting a six-hour road blockade by local people to protest against alleged refusal by foresters to come to their rescue.

The huts were damaged at a village under Dakshin Madarihat gram panchayat. The traffic disruption on the Falakata-Madarihat state highway was withdrawn at 1pm.

According to sources, a herd of 50-60 elephants has been roaming around in the South Khayerbari forest under Jaldapara wildlife division for more than a month. “At night, the animals split into two-three small herds and rampage through adjacent villages, especially those under the Dakshin Madarihat panchayat,” said Kamal Baran Das, a panchayat member.

He said last night, a group of elephants had entered a village and damaged six huts. “Luckily, nobody was injured. Two huts were surrounded by five elephants and the families could somehow escape. After the people had come out, the houses were flattened by the elephants,” said Das.

Das said whenever the villagers informed the foresters about the elephant raids, the officers said they were busy and refuse to visit the spots. “Last night also, when we contacted Madarihat range office, nobody came to the village. That is why the people blocked road from 7am to 1pm.”