Prowling tiger adds to exam stress in Bengal’s Lalgarh

Students have to reach examination centres taking roads where pug marks were seen in the past fortnight.

kolkata Updated: Mar 12, 2018 13:49 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times, Midnapore
Royal Bengal tiger,Lalgarh,Maoist
Forest Protection Committee personnel patrolling village roads at Lalgarh in West Bengal(HT Photo )

A prowling Royal Bengal tiger has added to the examination stress of thousands of students writing class 10 board exams in Lalgarh, a forested region of West Bengal.

Students have to reach examination centres in about 100 schools in and around Lalgarh, Sarenga and Goaltore in West Midnapore and Bankura districts, taking roads where pug marks were seen in the past fortnight.

To ensure safety of the students, the state education department has urged district administrations and forest department to take all possible measures to prevent any untoward incident.

“We have asked the administration and forest department to take steps so that none faces any problem, or suffers from fear, before or during the exam,” said Shyampada Patra, the official in charge of education in West Midnapore Zilla Parishad.

Forest staffers and members of the Forest Protection Committee (FPC) are patrolling the roads, leading to the examination centres.

Forest officials alerting villagers about the predator in Bengal’s West Midnapore district on Monday. (HT Photo )

“If anyone faces any problem to reach examination centres they can approach our staff or FPC members. They will help them,” said Rabindranath Saha, the divisional forest officer (DFO) in Midnapore.

“As there is a fear of a tiger moving in the region we have taken steps so that none faces any problem to reach the examination centres,” Arnab Sengupta, DFO, Rupnarayan Division added.

Security presence has also been increased in the area. Vans constantly blaring alerts for the people on public address systems are also darting on the roads.

But fear still looms large on villagers.

“We cannot take any risk. So we are moving in groups in vehicles,” said Banamali Mahato of Madhupur as he was taking her daughter to Lalgarh for the examination that started on Monday.

“Less than 24 hours ago, a villager from our area was attacked by the tiger. We did not dare to let our son travel to the examination centre alone,” said Binod Mandi, another villager.

The fear intensified after the animal attacked Joyram Soren, 45, a resident of Kuskati village in Goaltore in West Midnapore district on Sunday afternoon.

It was the first instance of the tiger attacking a human since it was first sighted by one of the seven cameras set up the forest department near Lalgarh, once a Maoist dominated area.

After villagers complained of vanishing cows and reported pug marks in Madhupur forest in Lalgarh, the forest department installed cameras on February 27.

On March 2, the photos of the big cat were captured by a camera – the first instance of a tiger being sighted in the area.

The forest department also set up traps, and also tried to track the elusive animal with drones.

“We have information that the tiger has moved towards Goaltore area from Lalgarh,” Saha said.

First Published: Mar 12, 2018 13:49 IST