Malda, Sept. 11: A male langur brought to a village in Chanchal to scare away marauding rhesus monkeys is now on the rampage.
At least 30 people were bitten and scratched by the langur in the past one month.
The simian terror has made the residents of the Araidanga, about 35km from here, step out of home armed with lathis. Some of the residents have even bought firecrackers to scare away the langur.
The authorities of the Ekbarna High School and Araidanga panchayat functionaries have got in touch with the forest department so that the langur can be captured.
The latest victims are two schoolchildren, Royal Jha, studying in Class VII and Raj Karmakar, a Class III student. They were attacked by the langur today.
Royal has been admitted to Malda Medical College and Hospital, while Raj is undergoing treatment at the Chanchal subdivisional hospital. "I was on my way to school. I was on the lookout for the hanuman. Just a hundred meters from the school, it suddenly attacked me. I screamed in panic and by that time, it had scratched and bitten my hands and face," Royal said.
Madhab Saha, headmaster of the high school, said students were scared to come to school for fear of being attacked by the langur. "The situation is very serious. In the past 10 days, five of our students have been attacked. We have kept crackers in the school to ward off the animal," the headmaster said.
He said the langur was first seen in the locality about six months ago. For the past one month, the animal has been attacking the residents of the area.
Baghu Mishra, a farmer, said the langur had been brought to the village by Manoj Majhi about six months ago. "We were suffering because of a troupe of monkeys that were entering homes and stealing food from the kitchens. The hanuman scared the monkeys away, but now it has become a menace," he said.
He said at first, the langur was kept tied to a chain. "About a month ago, the langur escaped from Manoj's house and since then, he has been attacking everyone, men, women and children," he said.
The Congress gram panchayat pradhan of Araidanga, Amal Pathak, said according to his estimates, at least 30 persons, young and old alike, had been attacked. "Joydeb Jha, 48, was bitten on the face and neck. He is now in Calcutta for treatment. I have been contacting the block development officer and the forest department regularly to end this terror. All those who are being bitten or scratched have to take anti-rabies injections," Pathak said.
Minakshi Prasad, the divisional forest officer of Malda, said she was aware of the situation. "I am out of the district. I have heard about the langur attacks in Ariadanga. I have asked our staff in the Chanchal range office to immediately capture the langur. We will see whether it needs treatment and then release it in the forest," she said.