Saswat Singhdeo

Balasore: Villagers of Hatimunda under Nilagiri area of Balasore district allegedly thrashed six forest personnel including a ranger and damaged two vehicles alleging failure of the forest department in preventing wild elephants from straying into the village.

The incident took place yesterday night when the agitated villagers armed with sticks allegedly attacked the forest personnel and damaged their vehicles.

"We were guarding the village when around 60 to 70 people came and physically assaulted us for not guarding their crop fields," alleged forester Umakant Jena.

After getting information, police reached the spot and brought the situation under control.

On the other hand, the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Laxman Pradhan said that the elephants will be chased away only after police take action against the villagers.

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"Villagers of Hatimunda came with sticks and brutally assaulted our staff. If action is not action taken against them, we will not drive away the elephants," Pradhan said.