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Guest comes on all fours, leaves ‘tail’ of antics

The langur at New Secretariat devours a mango. Picture by Kinsuk Basu

The guest of the day at Bengal’s babudom around lunchtime on Friday was a langur and all it got was “just desserts”.

A large Gray or Hanuman langur hopped from one floor to another, keeping several officers at the New Secretariat building on the edge of their seats. It left a section of staff in splits while others scampered for cover.

After monkeying around for an hour and 30 minutes in an unlikely place for monkey business, the primate leaped out of one of the corridors and escaped into the urban jungle.

A member of the animal rescue team from the forest department that turned up to snare the unwelcome visitor said the loner could be social outcast since they normally stay in troops of about 20 to 30 and was looking for food in the New Secretariat building.

Happy meal was over, though. All it got was a mango that a lady employee had packed in her lunchbox for dessert and a guava that was brought for the same purpose.

“We were taken aback around 1.30pm when we spotted a langur scampering down a flight of stairs from the third to the second floor,” said Bani Kanta Das, an advocate with the Workmen’s Employees Compensation Court on the second floor.

“I have been working here for the past two decades… never witnessed anything like this before.”

The second floor of Block A is usually a sombre place where courts sort out serious labour disputes related to compensation.

It houses a labour tribunal and a bar association, where senior advocates gather during the afternoon break.

“No one knows from where it appeared. The langur strolled into the registrar’s room located at the end of a corridor,” said Anima Das, a court employee who offered the mango to the langur. “After stopping briefly, it walked down the corridor and entered the second courtroom.”

This one was not in session and the langur perched itself near a window close to a wooden chair.

The handful of officials in the courtroom moved aside to make way for the langur while people from the adjacent rooms rushed in to catch the action, live. One of them offered a guava. The guest took a few bites and threw it away.

Anima was among the onlookers and she offered the mango to the langur, which proved it is an aam person as it grabbed the fruit and ate it.

Done with the mango, the primate walked out of the room and sat on the long corridor enjoying the crowd that had gathered around him.

Its next target was a woman tea vendor in the corridor. He tugged her pallu looking for biscuits. Her shriek startled the animal and it beat a retreat.

An alpha male rules a langur troop, banishing the other males into small bachelor groups, an expert said. “The bachelors scavenge for food and occasionally attempt to oust the troop leader.”

Pradip Vyas, additional principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), said the visitor at the New Secretariat “could be a dominant male that got separated from the group”.