Local people and foresters take Renuka Roy’s body out of the North Khayerbari forest in Alipurduar on Monday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Alipurduar, Dec. 16: A woman who ventured into a Dooars forest without heeding a foresters’ warning about the presence of an elephant herd was today smashed to death by a jumbo.
Her husband, who was a few paces behind her in the North Khayerbari forest, climbed a tree to save himself and had to stay put there for over two hours because the killer elephant and its herd would not budge from the spot, despite the presence of foresters and villagers who tried to scare away the animals.
Rajendra Jakhar, the divisional forest officer of the Jaldapara wildlife division, said: “We had made an announcement in the villages adjacent to the North and South Khayerbari forest (both part of the Jaldapara wildlife division) that 70-odd elephants were roaming in these forests. We had appealed to residents that no one should go into the forests to collect firewood. No one paid heed.”
Around 10am today, Shikeswar Roy and his wife Renuka from Chhekamari village walked into the North Khayerbari forest, around 56km from here, to collect firewood.
It is common for villagers to collect firewood in the forest.
Renuka, who was walking ahead of Shikeswar, had waded through a stream inside the forest when the tusker appeared in front of her.
It lifted the woman with its trunk and threw her to the ground. Renuka, 46, died on the spot.
Shikeswar, who saw this, clambered up a tree. He then started screaming for help.
Villagers alerted the Madarihat range office and forest staff rushed to the spot.
But no one could go near Renuka’s body because by then, around 30 more elephants had emerged from the bushes and were standing with the killer jumbo.
Several times, foresters tried to get close to the body but the elephants trumpeted so loudly that the guards moved back.
Around 1,000 people, local residents and curious motorists who were driving down NH31C which is 250m away, had gathered.
Around 12.30pm, a team from Madarihat police station reached the spot.
The foresters then burst many crackers after which the elephants walked back into the forest.
Renuka’s body was taken away and her husband brought down from the tree around 1pm.
As travellers down the highway stopped to stare at the large elephant herd, traffic on NH31C got stalled for over two hours.
In a separate incident, an unidentified woman was trampled to death by a wild elephant today at Chhipra forest in the Buxa Tiger Reserve, around 29km from here.
Bhaskar J.V., the deputy field director, of BTR (East) division, said: “An unidentified woman has been trampled by a wild elephant and the herd has surrounded her body.”
The police later brought the body out of the forest.
The bodies of both the deceased women were brought to the Alipurduar subdivisional hospital for a post-mortem.