Cassian Baliarsingh

An elephant went on a rampage and killed as many as four persons early Saturday morning in Angul district. Shockingly, the incident is not from one village. In fact, the jumbo strayed into four different villages and killed the villagers.

The incident has spread outrage in the area. Angry locals blamed the forest department for the deaths and alleged sheer negligence.

“The forest department miserably failed to trace the whereabouts of the elephant which has led to such unfortunate deaths. Had they warned the people and told about its movements, the lives of all the four could have been saved,” a local alleged.

According to sources, the pachyderm, believed to be separated from its herd, was wandering in the area. However, villagers were unaware as no forest officials had reached out to the village and made any announcement in this regard.

Early Saturday morning, Subhash Biswal of Cheliapada village had gone to his agricultural field to check on his crops with his brothers. All of a sudden, the jumbo appeared from nowhere and attacked them all.

While, his brothers managed to escape, Subhash was trampled to death by the animal. Soon after, the elephant strayed into nearby Angarbandh, Barasingha and Santri village and killed one person each from the three villages, taking the tally to four. 

“This is the first such incident in our villages. No elephant or tusker had ever strayed into the villages. This is the first time. Had the forest department made any announcement in this regard, the villagers would have been careful. So, we hold the forest department responsible for the deaths,” said another villager.

“The elephant is on a killing spree. But, the forest officials have failed to track the movements of the animal and drive it away from human habitation. Now, the forest department is promising to give job to the kin of the victims and compensation of Rs 4L. If such negligence continues, there will be many more deaths. They are on duty, but they do not know the movement of the elephant,” alleged another village.

The locals demanded Rs15 lakh each as compensation for the kin of the deceased while staging protest by keeping the bodies in front of the district Collector’s office. Besides, the agitators also demanded action against the erring Forest department officials.

“The villagers have demanded to find out a permanent solution to restrict elephants from entering human settlement. We have assured them of all help. As per the law, the deceased family will get Rs 4 lakh as compensation,” said Vivek Kumar, Angul DFO.