The leopard that was beaten to death in a village near the Gorumara forest on Tuesday. Picture by Biplab Basak
Alipurduar, Jan. 7: A leopard that had come out of the Gorumara forest today attacked four persons, including a tourist from Calcutta, after which it was beaten to death by villagers.
A team of foresters had reached the Jainti village in Malbazar subdivision to tranquillise the male leopard, but the villagers chased the animal and beat it with sticks before it could be darted.
The forest department has filed a complaint with Meteli police station against unidentified persons for killing the leopard.
All the four injured men were taken to a health centre at Meteli and two of them were released after first aid. The foresters said the animal didn’t return to the forest because of dense fog that enveloped the entire Dooars throughout today.
The animal was first spotted by Chand Mohammad near a bamboo bush in Jainti village around 6am.
“He shouted and a large number of people gathered at the spot. Scared by the presence of a huge crowd, the leopard took shelter in the bamboo grove. The villagers informed nearby forest range offices and guards arrived at Jainti around 8am,” said a resident of Jainti, 90km from Alipurduar.
Whenever the animal came out of the bush, it mauled one person or another. First, rickshaw van puller Sirajul Islam was attacked and then, Birsha Oraon was also injured.
Sanika Oraon was the third person to be mauled by the leopard. A tourist from Shyambazar in Calcutta, Gourav Halder, who was staying in a resort in the nearby Dhupjhora village, came to know about the incident and reached Jainti to take the leopard’s pictures. Around 10am, the leopard pounced on the tourist and injured him, too.
By then, the crowd had swelled up and after the attack on Halder, the mob started chasing the beast with sticks. “Hundreds of people chased the leopard and hit it with sticks. The foresters from Gorumara north and Malbazar ranges and Khunia wildlife squad tried to stop the mob fury but couldn’t save the animal. Within a short time, the animal was beaten to death,” said a villager.
Sumita Ghatak, the divisional forest officer of Gorumara Wildlife Division, said the animal had entered the village at night and didn’t return to the forest because of dense fog. “There was poor visibility because of the fog and the animal didn’t know that the day had broken. Otherwise, the leopard would have gone back to the forest. Our staff members reached the village and were preparing to fire darts at the animal. But before we could tranquillise the leopard, the villagers killed it,” she said.
Ghatak said the forest department had filed a police complaint for killing the animal. Amit P. Javalgi, the superintendent of police, Jalpaiguri said: “ We have started an investigation on the basis of the complaint and accused persons will be arrested.”