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Tusker kills drunk handler

Suman, the elephant that killed its handler in Birbhum on Wednesday

Dubrajpur, Aug. 20: A circus elephant in Birbhum killed one of its handlers this afternoon when he allegedly approached it in a drunken state.

Circus employees said the female elephant, Suman, did not like the smell of liquor. “On earlier occasions, it had thrown a fit after getting a whiff of liquor,” a source said.

Azhar Mian, 35, the handler whom the elephant picked up with its trunk and gored with its tusks, had been working for the circus company for the past two years. He hailed from Bihar’s Gopalganj.

Circus sources said Azhar used to drink country liquor every day although he knew about the 40-year-old tusker’s aversion to the smell of liquor.

“When Azhar entered the elephants’ tent to feed Suman in an inebriated condition, it expressed its dislike by trumpeting several times. When it refused to eat, Azhar beat it up with a rod,” said an employee of Nataraj Circus.

“The elephant got furious, wrapped its trunk around the handler, flung him to the ground and gored him with its tusks,” he added.

The manager of the circus, Madhab Chatterjee, also said Suman disliked the smell of liquor.

“I have come to know from employees that the elephant got angry when it smelt liquor. When the handler beat it up, it attacked him,” Chatterjee said.

Nataraj Circus set up its tent at Sarada Maidan in Dubrajpur town on July 21. It has two female and one male elephant. Suman has been with the company for 35 years.

The employees of the circus company said shows involving elephants were popular. “Suman’s performance includes standing up on its hind legs and playing football with its trunk,” an employee said.

The divisional forest officer of Birbhum, Santosha GR, said elephants had “strong likes and dislikes”.

“Some like the smell of liquor and some don’t. I will talk to the circus company to know why the elephant got so angry that it killed its handler. Elephants are calm and intelligent animals. They do not disturb anyone unless provoked,” he said.