Officials are yet to catch a leopard that escaped into Meerut city late Sunday night and injured at least seven people, including a police official.
The city is on high alert after the animal, who was trapped inside a room of the cantonment hospital, escaped during a rescue operation by wildlife experts around midnight.
The leopard was first spotted at a timber shop in Sadar area on Sunday afternoon, from where it entered the nearby cantonment hospital and was locked inside a room. A team of wildlife experts was summoned from Afzalgarh to capture the animal, who escaped after breaking a window in the room.
The leopard was then spotted at a commercial complex in the posh Abulane market on Monday morning. The CCTV footage showed that the animal entered the complex around 3am. A team of the Wildlife Trust of India reached the market along with forest officials, but failed to locate the animal.
Forest officials and additional staff from five districts have been called for assistance, said divisional forest officer Sudhanshu Sharma.
Senior superintendent of police Onkar Singh said, "We have been urging the public not to go near the animal, but some of them went close out of curiosity and the animal attacked them"
Seven people sustained minor injuries, including Sadar police station house officer Gajendra Pal, who had to get seven stitches on the shoulder.
Schools and colleges in the city were closed while the examinations scheduled for Monday were postponed. Most shops in and around Sadar area were also shut.
"It is a robust animal who broke the window to escape from the hospital room," said chief conservator of forests (west zone) SK Rastogi.
"We are expecting the leopard to venture out at night and are prepared to trap him."
Leopard breaks the cemented window of the ward and escapes. (HT Photo/Chahatram)
Hundreds of people had gathered outside the commercial complex where the animal was last seen, and police faced a hard time dispersing the crowds.
"My guard saw the animal walking in the alleys of Abulane market after it escaped from the cantonment hospital late Sunday night," said Shashi Agarwal, owner of Chulha Chowka restaurant at Abulane market.
Teams of police and administrative officials have also been formed to patrol the town, and residents have been asked to immediately inform police or the forest department if they spot the animal.
A person injured by the leopard. (HT Photo/Chahatram)