Three persons trampled to death by elephant in West Bengal's Jhargram
An eyewitness, Siddhartha Mahato said that the stray elephant attacked Subbala first. After trampling her, it attacked Gurucharan and Saroj Mahato.
KOLKATA: Three persons, including a woman, were trampled to death by an elephant at Belpahari in Jhargram.
Subala Pal (55), Gurucharan Mahato (65), and Saroj Mahato (62) had gone to the Bhulabheda forest to collect flowers from the Mahua tree to prepare local hooch. They were collecting the flowers when the elephant, which got separated from its herd, attacked them. All three died on the spot.
Now is the season for Mahua flowers. It is the main ingredient for locally made hooch. Hundreds of local people venture into the forest to collect the flowers. Their livelihood is dependent on the flowers, said a forest department officer at Bhulabheda range.
On Saturday, hundreds of people from nearby hamlets went into the forest to collect the flowers when the elephant attacked them.
An eyewitness, Siddhartha Mahato said that the stray elephant attacked Subbala first. After trampling her, it attacked Gurucharan and Saroj Mahato. "We fled the scene to save our lives," he said.
Mahato alleged that officers of the forest department landed at the spot late. ‘’But they took no initiative to drive out the elephant. We need to enter the forest areas regularly to collect wood for cooking. Now we are worried as the tusker is still roaming in the forest,’’ he said.
The forest department officers, however, admitted that no awareness campaign was conducted to alert the villagers.
Divisional forest officer, Jhargram, Sheikh Farid said the families of the victims would be paid compensation according to rules.
Meanwhile, the agitated villagers staged a protest. Sub-divisional police officer, Belpahari, Uttam Garai, and inspector-in-charge of the local police station Bisajit Biswas faced the ire of the protesters. ‘’The officers were gheraoed by the villagers, who carried the body of Subala, for two hours. Later, the agitators were pacified and the body was removed,’’ said a police officer.