Maoists and activists of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) Saturday night set fire to a deer park in West Midnapore district’s Jhargram sub-division that houses a variety of animals, including bears and cheetal deer, police said.
The ultras and PCAPA members took out a large rally of 2,000 armed people that damaged and torched a CPI-M office at Bandhagara before targeting the deer park two km from Jhargram town, police said.
“The blaze is still on in the park. The surrounding areas are all dark. We have not been able to enter. So the extent of animal casualties cannot be ascertained,” a police officer said close to midnight Saturday.
According to one estimate, the park houses 52 cheetal deer, four bears, five fishing cats, hyenas, numerous birds and rare species of snakes.
“The employees and their families - numbering 30 - who reside inside the park were told by the Maoists to lock themselves in their quarters. There are no reports of any casualties among them,” police said.