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Killer Laden on prowl

Ranchi, Dec. 19: Beware, Laden’s waiting to go for the kill.

Far away from the battle-scarred terrain of Afghanistan, another terror sharing the name of the world’s most-wanted man has wreaked havoc in over 14 villages of Silli block, about 40km from here.

While this Laden won’t send intelligence agencies into a tizzy, it has done enough to shatter the peace of local residents and administration officials.

For almost a year, a wild elephant has been hounding the villagers, attacking them and destroying crops and hutments. Since January, the pachyderm has claimed 11 lives in different hamlets of Silli. Its most recent preys are an aged lady and her granddaughter, who were killed on December 17. Such is the fear that the villagers, who dare not venture out of their homes after dusk, have named the 20-year-old male tusker after the al Qaeda chief.

Like Osama, who has evaded all those hunting for him, not many forest officials have seen the elephant, which was part of the herd that had entered Jharkhand from neighbouring Bengal last year. It strayed from the herd. “Some of the field staff who managed to get a glimpse of the tusker in the forest region described him as aggressive. We have asked them to keep track of the tusker’s movements,” said divisional forest officer Paritosh Upadhyaya.

According to the feedback from the Bengal forest department, the elephant had attacked villagers in Purulia and Bankura early last year.

The state forest officials had given a sketch of the elephant to the Bengal forest department to confirm its identity. Bengal had verified it.

“The Bengal forest department had issued orders to execute the tusker as it was attacking humans,” said a forest official. Local forest officials have sought permission to use tranquillisers.

Local legislator Sudesh Mahto has sanctioned money from his MLA fund to install adequate lighting facilities in each of the affected villages.

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