Mrunal Manmay Dash

Two officials of Bonai Forest Range in Sundargarh district were allegedly attacked by irate villagers on Thursday night while they were trying to shoo off two tuskers roaming in Dengeidhipa village.

The forest officials were allegedly beaten and sustained burn injuries on their bodies after angry villagers snatched the fire torch meant to ward off elephants from their hands and used them on the bodies of forest officials.

The injured officials were rushed to the Bonai hospital where they are currently under treatment.

As per reports, two wild tuskers have been wreaking havoc in Bonai area for 45 days. They have destroyed acres of crops and more than 100 houses in the area. The villagers alleged that despite repeated requests to the forest department, they did not do enough to keep the elephants away from the habitation neither they tranquilise the tuskers to shift them to the jungle.

The patience of the villagers finally gave in on Thursday night when they felt enough is enough. An argument with the forest officials led to a scuffle which landed the forest officials in the hospital.

An FIR has been lodged at the Bonai police station against five villagers from Dengeidhipa in this connection.

The situation escalated further when hundreds of villagers gathered after the FIR. They marched towards the office of the DFO and staged a gherao demanding withdrawal of FIR and tranquilisation of the elephants.

Speaking to OTV, Bonai Ranger, Manoj Patra said, “I know the situation in the ground. Our officials are monitoring the movement of the elephants and trying to ward them off by using fire crackers and fire torches.”

“As far as tranquilisation is concerned, we do not have the authority to conduct such an operation. We have written to the concerned department and awaiting their response,” Patra added.

On Friday, a large gathering took out a rally in Bonai demanding police to refrain from lodging FIRs over elephant intrusions.

(Reported By Ranjit Chaudhary, OTV)