GUWAHATI: Six elephants were mowed down by an express train in Assam on Sunday. The tragic incident occurred near Balipara in Sonitpur district, around 215 km from Guwahati, in the wee hours.
The Guwahati-bound passenger train, which started from Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh, hit the jumbos as they were crossing the track in search for food. One of the elephants was pregnant, official sources said.
After the incident, the train had to be halted there for several hours to clear the track.
Later, the carcasses were buried in a nearby field by forest officials, but not without facing a protest from the locals, who tried to resist the burial. The protesters slammed the forest department for failing to protect wildlife and demanded that Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma visit the site. Brahma described the incident as unfortunate and blamed encroachment of forest land for the incident.
“If people encroach upon land in the forest, where will the elephants go? They strayed out in search of food, which led to the tragic incident,” she told The New Indian Express.
The minister urged the railway authorities to fix a speed limit for trains in winter as poor visibility, caused by foggy conditions, often leads to such incidents.
Last year, 30 wild elephants were killed by speeding trains in Assam.