Two Kerala resort owners held after woman dies during wild elephant attack

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Two resort owners in Wayanad have been held after a 26-year-old woman died in a wild elephant attack nearly a week ago. The woman, Shahana Sathar, died on January 23. She and her family were staying in a tent provided by the private resort, in Wayanad’s Meppadi forest range. 

Following the incident, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against the resort owners under sections 336 (whoever does any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others) and 304A (whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was registered after the police found major security lapses by the resort in connection with the tent accommodation.

The two owners were arrested and later released on station bail. According to the police, Shahana and two other family members rushed out of the tent when they heard the trumpeting sound of the elephant. While the other two managed to escape, the 26-year-old passed away. However, it is unclear if she was trampled by the elephant or suffered a cardiac arrest due to shock as there are no major external injuries to her body. 

Collector Adeela Abdulla visited the resort on Sunday and stated that there were security lapses in the area where the tents were built.

According to reports, there were 30 tourists in the same resort and some of them were staying in the tents that did not have necessary protection. The resort is located deep inside the forest, in the Chembramala Hills. Previously too, there have been instances of wild elephants reaching the plantation and one incident of a person being trampled in the same area.

Speaking to the media, district collector Adeela Abdulla said that the tents are very fragile and were not made keeping in mind safety instructions. Moreover, these areas witness debris fall. So, resorts should be built in these places only after consulting authorities and disaster management authorities, she added. 

Later, the Meppadi Gram Panchayat Council issued notices to all resorts under its jurisdiction to shut down operations until further notice. 

The district collector also said that all the tents in the forest border regions will undergo a safety check from now on.