Woman, infant daughter trampled to death by marauding jumbo herd in Jharkhand village
A woman and her one-year-old daughter were trampled to death as a herd of 18 elephants went on a rampage through a village in Jharkhand’s Gumla district early on Monday, forest officials said.
The deceased were identified as Archana Baghawar, 26, and her daughter Ishita. Four people of the family were sleeping in the asbestos-roofed mud house, when the incident took place around 4 am.
Recounting their terrifying experience, Archana’s mother in-law Luisa Devi, 50, said , “We were four people sleeping in two different rooms of the house as my son James was in Bokaro since Sunday. Around 4 am, we heard elephants trumpeting. Moment after, the herd razed a portion of the house wall.
“My sister in-law and I escaped from northern side of the house. Archana, holding her daughter, tried to flee from another side but they were trampled to death by elephants, as they stepped out of the house.”
Hearing the trumpeting, villagers chased away the elephants to the nearby forest, around one kilometre from the village. However, the elephants again returned to the village pond around 10 am and then moved towards Bano forest range in Simdega.
“We have given ₹50,000 to the family of the deceased immediately on Monday, while remaining ₹7.5 lakh compensation would be given to the family after official formalities,” Gumla divisional forest officer (DFO), Srikant Verma said.
He said the herd entered the Rampur village from Palkot wildlife sanctuary where it was staying for over a week.
“The herd had entered Sakiya village on Sunday afternoon. The forest team chased them away from the village and kept vigil till the evening. The herd, however, entered the Rampur village on Sunday night through the forest route,” Verma said.
Gumla forest ranger John Robert Tirkey said the herd went to Bano forest range by Monday afternoon, 10-12 km from the village.
“We have asked the villagers to be alert and avoid going out of home at night. We have equipped them with torches and fire crackers to help them to fight the elephants in case they enter the village again,” he said, adding, villagers were also asked not to store grain or Mahua flower, an ingredient to make country liquor, at home.
The incident caused panic in Rampur, a village of 398 houses as per the 2011 census. However, the house where the incident took place is located alone around 400 metres away from the main village, a forest official said.
“We are not safe even at home. Forest department must ensure safety of the villagers from elephants. Another herd of five elephants have been found in Majhkera village, which is not far from this village,” said Raju Soreng, a village resident.
In Jharkhand, an average of 62 people were killed by elephants every year since 2009-10. As per the forest department, a total of 610 people were killed from 2009-2010 to November 2018, of which 53 people were killed from April to November 2018