Protests erupt in Baramulla over child's death in leopard attack

“The relatives and locals rushed to the spot and found girl lying in a pool of blood,” said Muhammad Ashraf, a local resident.
Family members of Rutba Manzoor, 7, wailing over her body after she was mauled by Leopard in Boniyar area of north Kashmir's Baramulla.
Family members of Rutba Manzoor, 7, wailing over her body after she was mauled by Leopard in Boniyar area of north Kashmir's Baramulla.Screengrab

Baramulla: As a child became victim of wild animals in Boniyar area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Tuesday, angry locals took to streets against the Wildlife Department for their failure to secure their lives from the wild animals.

Rutba Manzoor, 7, of Batangee Boniyar was mauled to death by leopard when she stepped out of her home on Tuesday. The locals said that soon after she disappeared, her cries were heard from the nearby forest.

“The relatives and locals rushed to the spot and found girl lying in a pool of blood,” said Muhammad Ashraf, a local resident.

Frustrated over the series of killings by the wild animals in the area, the agitated locals on Tuesday assembled near Tehsil headquarter and placed the body on the road. The protesters were raising slogans against the Wildlife Department for their failure to protect innocent lives.

“In last four days, three deaths have taken place,” said Muhammad Anwar. “Why did the department of wild life wait for third victim’s death and only then geared up?’’ asked Anwar.

Rutba Manzoor is the third victim in last four days who had been mauled to death by the beast. Earlier, two teenagers, Amir Muneer and Shahid Ahmad Ganaie of of Kalsan and Trikanjan Boniyar were killed by the beast in the last three days in the area.

Major area of Boniyar in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district is a forest area. However, authorities have declared only three areas as Wildlife protected areas. The protected areas include Lachipora, Limber and Nagnari.

There is no infrastructure for the front line staff in the areas vulnerable to man-animal conflict with the result there has been no measures to check the attacks by wildlife animals in these vulnerable areas.

“The only control room of the Wildlife department is located in Baramulla town. The wild life department authorities have kept a cage there, while there should have been both presence of the front line staff as well as cages at the area like Uri which is close to forests and has maximum chances of man animal conflict,” said Basharat Ahmad, a teacher from Trikanjan Boniyar where a teenager was recently mauled to death by a leopard.

The officials of the Wildlife Department on the other hand stressed upon the awareness to avoid such “conflicts.” They said even if staff is deployed at various places, the attacks by wildlife animals can not be avoided unless people themselves take precautionary measures.

“Often people close to forests place garbage near forests which invites dogs to such sites. The leopards which prey on the dogs visit garbage sites occasionally ,” said Rashid Naqash, Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir. He said, “whenever children or teenagers venture close to forests, the leopard find them easy to lift as a prey. Therefore, it is mandatory for the locals not to allow their wards to visit forests unless they are accompanied by at least two elders.”

Meanwhile, the staff of the department of wildlife started camping in the area and ordered killing of the man eater leopard. “We have hired shooters also and asked employees to camp in the area. The pattern of the wild beast will be judged and accordingly plan will be devised,” said Rashid Naqash. Following communication from the regional wildlife warden kashmir about the sensitivity of the situation, chief wildlife warden Jammu and Kashmir has issued permission for the killing of the wild beast after fulfilling certain formalities.

The wildlife authorities have been directed not to kill the beast before exhausting all the options like capturing animal through trapping cages or tranquillising. Besides, proper identification of the leopard has been asked to be ensured before it is hunted.

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