Crocodile found eating body of man missing for 3 days in Uttarakhand: Official

A man in Uttarakhand who went missing three days turned up dead a short distance from where he was last seen. A forest official said the autopsy is expected to indicate if he died in a crocodile attack or was murdered.
A crocodile in one of the water bodies in Terai area of US Nagar district in Kumaon. (Representative image) (HT file photo)
A crocodile in one of the water bodies in Terai area of US Nagar district in Kumaon. (Representative image) (HT file photo)
Published on Sep 15, 2021 12:22 AM IST
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By Ankur Sharma

Dehradun: Authorities are investigating the death of a man after a crocodile was discovered devouring a dead body near a pond in Udham Singh Nagar district’s Khatima area on Tuesday. The man, identified by a forest official as Sukhdev Singh Debu, had been missing for three days.

It is not clear whether he was killed by the crocodile or he was murdered and his body dumped in the pond.

Kundan Kumar, divisional forest officer (DFO)Terai East Forest division said, a man in Raghuliya village who went to drive away some monkeys spotted a crocodile eating what he thought were human remains.

“When he reached his farm, he saw a crocodile eating a person near a pond. He immediately informed the other villagers and a crowd gathered at the spot. Village head Gurmej Singh informed police and forest officials about the incident, following which Surai forest range team rushed to the spot and found that the crocodile devouring the dead body,” Kumar said.

Forest and police officials have sent the remains of the man’s body for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

The dead man, Sukhdev Singh Debu, was a resident of Raghuliya village in Khatima.

Citing statements by villagers, Kumar said Debu was last reported going for a walk in the fields adjoining Khakra pond in Surai forest range three days ago.

“But he never returned home. Prima facie, it seems that he was killed by the crocodile, but actual cause of death will be known after the post-mortem report is received” the senior forest official added.

In Uttarakhand, crocodiles are found in the Corbett landscape, Terai area, some areas of Haridwar forest division and Rajaji National Park landscape.

According to the wildlife census released by the state forest department in June last year, the crocodile numbers in Uttarakhand have risen from 123 in 2008 to 451 in 2020.

India has three of the world’s 23 crocodilian species. Uttarakhand has two of them - Mugger Crocodile and Gharial (in Corbett landscape). Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), the most widespread freshwater croc species is found throughout India, except the extreme north.

In September last year, an eight-year-old girl was killed by a crocodile in Haridwar forest division. The 8-year-old Radhika and her sister had gone near a water body in Kudibaghwanpur village in Laksar area of Haridwar district to pluck some flowers, when she was attacked by a crocodile.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021