Protest against fatal attacks by wild animals turns violent in Wayanad

Protestors pelt stones at police, target MLAs demanding swift action to save lives

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The joint hartal organised by a section of people in Wayanad district of Kerala against the recent fatalities in wild animal attacks turned violent with the agitators clashing with the police in Pulpally town on Saturday.

The protestors who gathered in large numbers since morning in Pulpally later blocked the main road with the body of Paul who was killed by a wild elephant on Friday. The agitators demanded a solatium of Rs 50 lakh for the family of the victim and a government job for his kin.

Paul, 52, a temporary guide at Kuruva Island Eco-Tourism Centre, was trampled to death by a wild elephant on Friday. The incident came close on the heels of the tragic death of Ajeesh who was also killed by a wild elephant in his backyard.

The agitators who raised slogans against the government also targeted Congress MLAs T Siddique and I C Balakrishnan who represent Kalpetta and Sulthan Bathery constituencies in Wayanad district. The legislators came to the protest site to hold negotiations and mediate with officials. However, the protestors hurled water bottles and chairs at them.

With the protest turning violent, the police resorted to lathi charges to chase away agitators. The protestors retaliated by pelting stones and throwing chairs at the police and raising “go back” slogans. Hundreds of protestors including women assembled in various parts of the town creating a tense situation in the area for hours.

A group of agitators intercepted a jeep belonging to the forest department and punctured its tyres. A wreath was placed on the roof of the vehicle as a mark of protest. Another set of agitators placed the carcass of a cow that was killed by a wild elephant recently, on the vehicle and raised slogans demanding the resignation of forest minister A K Saseendran.

The agitators have accused the forest minister of being ineffective in dealing with the man-animal conflict in the Wayanad district which has already claimed many lives. They charged the forest department staff of turning a blind eye towards their demand for protection from wildlife attacks.

High-level meeting to be convened

Meanwhile, in Thiruvananthapuram Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan directed the officials to convene a high-level meeting led by ministers to discuss issues related to wildlife attacks in Wayanad. The meeting to be presided over by the revenue minister and forest minister, will take place on February 20 in Wayanad.

It will be attended by elected representatives of local bodies, senior officials and members of various organisations.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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