Over 30 dogs killed in UP's Sitapur after mysterious animal kills 13 children
Residents of at least 10 villages in Sitapur are having sleepless nights. A mystery animal has fatally attacked 13 children in the district over the last six months.
The killings started in November when a 10-year-old was bitten on the neck at Sitapur's Tekriya village. The child succumbed to the injuries.
But no one saw the animal that attacked. It was assumed to be a dog.
A similar incident took place in January. This time the victim was in Khairabad.
The local administration downplayed both incidents as cases of attacks by stray dogs.
But the Yogi government took a serious note when 11 more deaths were reported in the last two months. Now, dogs are being killed one after another in Sitapur.
Animal experts, at the same time, are not convinced that all the child deaths resulted from attacks by dogs.
On Sunday, 12-year-old Reena was attacked by an unknown creature in Sitapur districts Maheshpur Chilwara village.
Different witnesses gave different accounts. Some blamed a pack of seven dogs behind the attack that sparked protests.
At least 300 villagers blocked traffic on the national highway and demanded action to rein in what they say are feral dogs.
The administration deployed police and multiple animal hunters.
In the last two weeks, at least 30 dogs have been killed by the administration and over 50 others have been sent to the forests. But the incidents never stopped.
Some animal researchers rule out dogs behind the killer assaults.
"Whenever a dog attacks, it targets below the waist. But in all these cases, the animal attacked areas around the neck of the children, which suggests that these attacks were committed by wolves, jackals or hyenas," said an animal expert in Delhi. "Whenever a dog attacks, they bite, bark and leave. But in one case, a 13-year-old was attacked on his neck and his entire flesh was eaten up by the animal. Its highly impossible that dogs will ever act like that.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Sitapur on Friday to meet family members of the victims. The district magistrate has also ordered a fresh exercise to capture and sterilise dogs in affected areas.
"We have increased surveillance and have also identified 50 such dogs which may be behind these attacks. We are also waiting for post-mortem reports of the deceased to determine the animals and their numbers said an officer of the Sitapur administration.
Police are now using drones and night-vision cameras to trap suspect animals and feral dogs.
At least 13 children in the age group of 7-13 years have died since November last year. Out of them, seven died this month.
The district administration has roped in various agencies to curb the attacks. The CM has ordered a ban on open defecation in 10 of the affected villages.
Experts from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have also been approached to suggest a scientific solution to the problem.
(With inputs Lokendra Singh)