Elephants take Assam town hostage, one killed

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Tezpur, Oct 23 (UNI) This district headquarters town was taken hostage by two wild elephants yesterday, leaving one person dead and injuring two, with one of the pachyderms still at large.

Reports said the elephants had entered the town from Barachapori and went on a rampage, destroying houses and walls, with the situation going to such an extent that the administration mulled shooting down the tusked visitors.

One Mithu Gowala (45) of Ouguri was killed while two others were admitted to hospital following injuries in the rampage created by the elephants.

The public's attempts at chasing away the animals led them to seek shelter in a thin forest area near the Tezpur central jail within the town and just as the people sighed in relief, they returned to haunt the denizens.

The elephants this time decided to register their visit 'officially' and entered the district court premises, deputy commissioner's office and adjoining residential quarters and Sasastra Seema Bal office.

They destroyed furniture in some of the offices while in others they were contended with frightening out the workers and destroying walls. As hours lapsed since the rampage started and with dusk setting in, the visitors made a go for the main market, forcing the police to fire in the air to frighten them away.

One of the elephants was chased towards Brahmaputra shores, from where it was believed to have moved to Barachapori.

However, the whereabouts of its mate was yet to be ascertained after it had taken shelter in the outskirts of the town.

Though it had not been spotted since last night, the administration was on the look-out to ensure that it did not enter human habitation again.

Tezpur town is not alone in its encounters with the elephants, with the Air Force base in the town another favourite haunt.

The pachyderms were reported to regularly enter the Air Force compound and damage property several times.

The menace of elephants entering human habitations has been a recurrent problem across the state with dwindling forest cover and greater human interference in their natural habitats forcing the animals to move in search of food and shelter.

UNI XC-SG PL KLC1450

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