Rajasthan: Forest department files FIR after angry mob set leopard on fire in Sariska

The angry mob took to pelting stones at the QRT and forest department officials, who were involved in the tranquilising of the animal.

Anger continues to simmer in parts of Sariska Forest Reserve area after a leopard was burnt to death by a rampaging mob. The forest department in Alwar has filed an FIR against unknown persons under sections 9(51) of the Forest Act.

Tension has gripped large parts as the reserve area continues to witness one of the worst instances of man-animal conflict in recent years. There has been palpable fear in villages in the area after another person was killed in a leopard attack on Saturday taking the total number of deaths due to leopard attacks to 7.

After the death of Ramprasad Gujjar on Saturday, who belonged to Bansur area, villagers had demonstrated against the forest department. They blamed the department for not taking quick and required action. On Saturday, some of the villagers spotted a leopard, suspected to have killed Ramprasad and the angry mob started pelting stones at the Quick Response Team and forest department officials, who were involved in the tranquilising of the animal. Some of them also chased the leopard which had entered a cave. The area was blocked and thereafter, the angry mob set the leopard on fire.

A villager Dayaram admitted, "We have burnt him. He was harassing the villagers and killing animals."

As per Sanwarmal Nagora, CO of Alwar rural area, "The leopard was tranquilised. Thereafter, he had entered a cage. The villagers started pelting stones (at forest department officials). They had burnt him."

The reserve has recently been under increasing glare due to rise in incidents of leopards attacking human beings. In February, there had been four deaths within a span of seven days. Despite repeated assurance, leopard attacks did not stop and has adversely affected people's lives in the area. And after Saturday's leopard attack, several top officials from the police and district administration had reached the spot and combing operation was being carried out in the forest area.

India Today spoke with Alwar District collector, Muktanand Agarwal, who mentioned, "Large number of leopards have been living in the area for a long time. Human beings and these animals had been living in a cordial atmosphere. Sometimes, these leopards used to pick up on their animals and villagers used to not mind. But after last month's killings, the man - animal conflict has become clear and that has been of concern."

Last month, four people were brutally killed in the Sariska forest reserve in a period of seven days due to leopard attacks. Thereafter, more than two dozen men from the Quick Response Team (QRT) were deployed to scan through deep forests of Sariska for any tell tale signs, like pug marks, of the leopard. The district administration had also been made use of drone to scan through large, treacherous parts of the forest region. Loud speakers and pamphlets were being made use of by the administration asking villagers to stay on alert.

The recent spate of killings has also led to politicians making a beeline for the area. Blame game has ensued as angry villagers continue to hold the administration responsible for the failure to stop the killings. Tikaram Juli, district president, Congress, says, "There is anger in the village because the leopards have been attacking everyday. The forest officials were given information but the forest team turned up very late."

Demands of compensation and security have been made. Shakuntla Rawat, an MLA from Bansur area mentioned, "Leopards have caused havoc. One person from the family of dead be given a job, Rs 20 lakh compensation. I will raise this matter in the Assembly."

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