A pack of stray dogs mauled an eight-year-old girl to death on Tuesday when she was on her way to relieve herself in Hetbandh Digwar village in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district.
Soni Kumari, a class 3 student in local Ruth New School, Bongwar, had gone to a nearby sewer in the afternoon to relieve herself when most of the villagers were away on work. A pack of dogs pounced on her and mauled her. A passerby heard Soni’s cries, and along with others, shooed away the dogs.
The girl had suffered bites all over her body and doctors declared her dead when she was brought to the district hospital by the villagers.
The government has assured action against the stray dogs and promised to construct a toilet at the girl’s house.
“We will direct the officials of animal husbandry department to take action against stray dogs in the area,” sub divisional officer Kiran Kumari said.
“We will help the family as per government norms. The family has no toilet; that is why the girl had gone outside to relieve herself. We will get a toilet constructed at the victim’s house,” she said.
Praveen Ohal of HOPE and Animal Trust, an NGO working in the state capital Ranchi since 2007 to control dog population, said, “There were about 30 lakh dogs in the state at the ratio of one dog per 10 persons and Ranchi alone accounted for 40,000 dogs of which 70% have been sterilised.”
He said measures to control dog population were in place only in Ranchi and Khunti districts of the state.
In 2013, a five-year-old boy was mauled to death by dogs in Dhurwa, Ranchi while a newborn girl was eaten up by stray dogs inside the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in June 2015.
A 65-year-old woman was mauled to death by a pack of stray dogs and parts of her body eaten in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala while another woman was mauled by feral dogs in the same area, but survived.
There is no data on the number of people bitten by stray dogs across the country annually but Kerala is said to be the worst affected with an estimated 2.5-lakh feral canine population and at least one lakh people having been bitten in 2015-16, a Supreme Court-appointed panel said in July.
The latest incidents renewed calls for urgent culling of stray dogs in Kerala but a similar move last year had angered animal rights groups which described the proposal as “uncivilised”.
Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das has taken the matter “seriously” and directed officials to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.