GUWAHATI: Forest officials in Assam had to move heaven and earth, to the extent of shelling out money and liquor, to rescue an elephant calf, which the villagers believed was a “Goddess incarnate”.
The incident occurred on Monday night at a remote village on the border of Nagaon-Karbi Anglong districts.On receiving information about an elephant calf wandering around in the village, a team of forest officials and members of wildlife conservation group Green Guard went there to rescue the animal. But on reaching the village, they were faced with an unprecedented situation after a woman and a youth, who the locals believed were possessed by God, claimed that the calf was a ‘Devi’ (Goddess) incarnate, out there to protect the villagers.
“Soon, the duo went hysterical, screaming and threatening the forest officials and our members. At this, most of the villagers ran away in fear. Some feigned as if they had lost consciousness while others bowed down in prayer and lit incense sticks,” said Green Guard secretary general Raj Phukan.
He said, the calf, was tired and frightened, but the ‘possessed’ did not even allow it to rest. And this went on for hours, he said.
“After some time, some more forest officials and members of our organisation arrived. Finally, the villagers relented and let the team take away the baby elephant, but not before they were offered money and liquor,” Phukan said.Official sources said the calf had been kept at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation at Kaziranga.
Most of the people in the village are said to be illiterate and as a result, they easily fall prey to superstitions. The latest incident comes within days after a veteran athlete, was allegedly tortured by the locals in a Karbi Anglong village following suspicion that she practised black magic.
The police on Tuesday arrested nine people in connection with the incident.