A youth was killed when a wild elephant lifted him by the trunk and tossed him on the ground on the bank of the Teesta near here on Thursday morning.
The death of Sagar Das, 25, triggered a road blockade for around three hours by hundreds of local people.
Das, a resident of Daspara of the Baropatia-Natunbos area of Jalpaiguri district, went to an agricultural field at Nathuar Char, along with his brother Sahel. They had planted groundnuts on a plot and went there to check out the farm.
"A wild elephant that was nearby chased the brothers. Sahel managed to escape but the elephant caught Sagar by the trunk and tossed him on the ground," said a source.
Sahel raised the alarm and along with some others, rushed his brother to the super-specialty hospital in Jalpaiguri where doctors pronounced him dead.
The villagers erupted in fury after the elephant attack. They burnt clothes, sacks and tyres and blocked the road that connects Bodaganj with Bhorer Alo, the mega tourism hub in Gajoldoba, around 10am.
“A few days ago, another person from the neighbouring Mantadari area had been killed in an elephant attack. The forest department should take steps to ensure our safety and steer elephant herds back into the wild. Elephants stray out of the Baikunthapur forest frequently and raid farms and villages,” said Ranjit Das, a local resident.
He said an elephant herd had been roaming around in the villages, located on the bank of the Teesta and the fringes of the forest, for the past few months.
“There are many farmers who grow crops near the river bank. After today’s incident, we are feeling insecure as we could lose our lives while working in the field. The forest department should intervene to prevent such attacks,” said another protester.
Sagar is survived by wife Rashni and a four-month-old daughter.
The blockade hampered traffic for hours. Krishna Das, the deputy chief of the local panchayat, arrived. He spoke to the protesters and said the forest department should intensify its vigil.
“Elephants are entering agricultural fields and villages because of inadequate patrolling. We suspect there is a scarcity of fodder in forests and that is why, the herds are coming out,” said Das.
After some time, a team of foresters and officers from Kotwali police station reached Daspara. They held a meeting with the local people and persuaded them to lift the blockade around 1pm.
“On Monday, a meeting will be held at the local panchayat office to discuss the issue,” said a forester who visited the spot.