Mob ransacks Forest Department office-cum-guesthouse at Chikkabaragi, torches furniture, vehicles

Renewed efforts will be made from Thursday to track the man-eating tiger of H.D. Kote in Chikkabaragi forest in Bandipur.

This follows authorisation to shoot down the tiger after three deaths were attributed to it in the villages adjoining the fringes of the Bandipur National Park.

The latest attack was on Tuesday evening. Basappa (70) was killed by a tiger close to the Chikkabaragi forest and his dismembered body was found nearly 1 km away from the spot where he was attacked.

All the three deaths are attributed to one tiger as the attacks took place in a radius of 6 to 10 km.

Six elephants will be pressed into service for the combing operation and additional forces are being deployed at Chikkabaragi, which is about 85 km from Mysore city, to help track the animal.

H.C. Kantharaju, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu that four teams of veterinarians and armed marksmen had been set up and they would fan out in the region and comb along the fringes of the forests.

However, sources in the department said on condition of anonymity that their first priority would be to tranquilise and trap the tiger and not kill it, unless it was an act of self-defence. “We will go according to the protocol and will not kill any tiger just to satisfy the mob demand as it will not solve the problem. If a wrong tiger is killed, it will be tragic and the problem will also persist, and we will be answerable for it,” a source said.

It is now being claimed that the Forest Department has the video footage of the tiger when it was sighted a few times on Saturday during the combing operation at Seegevadi haadi but could not be darted due to a faulty gun.

“The image of the tiger is clear and will help us ascertain its identity,” a source said. The tiger seems to be ejected out of its territory by a dominant male and hence it was refusing to retreat beyond 300 metres inside the forest and does not venture out more than 100 metres outside the boundary, sources said. This trait has been observed at Seegevadi haadi and the team would focus on combing within a 500-metre range along the demarcation line.

Superintendent of Police Abhinav Khare, who was at Chikkabaragi, told The Hindu that the tiger was spotted on Wednesday close to Basappa’s body and the police fired 29 rounds in its direction. Combing operations with the help of elephants on Thursday would help ascertain if the tiger had been shot or not.

Targeted

A large number of people from Chikkabaragi, Doddabaragi and surrounding villages laid siege to the Forest Department office-cum-guesthouse at Chikkabaragi on Tuesday night, ransacked it and set fire to furniture. A motorcycle, a lorry and a jeep were also set ablaze.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people ventured into the core area of the Bandpur Tiger Reserve unmindful of the dangers and staged a dharna near Basappa’s body, demanding that the Forest Minister and local elected representatives and Forest Department officials visit the place. H.D. Kote tahsildar Krishna was roughed up by the mob. The former MLA Chikkanna was gheraoed and forced to leave the place.

Meeting

Later in the day, Inspector-General of Police (Southern Range) Ramachandra Rao, senior officials from the department visited Chikkabaragi and held a meeting with the local people. Post-mortem was performed on Basappa’s body later and the last rites were conducted.

His family will receive a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh from the government.

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