Over a dozen children killed in attacks over past two years

A ‘man-eating' leopard killed a six-year-old girl at Panai village in Chamoli district's Gochar area on Thursday evening.

Lurking in the courtyard, the animal pounced on Bhuvna when she came out of the house to get food from the kitchen. She, along with other children, were alone as the elders had gone to a marriage.

Hearing the shrieks of the children, villagers rushed to the house. Bhuvna's body was found in the nearby bushes after an hour-long search.

“We have been complaining about the leopard attacking children for over a year now but the forest and civil authorities seem to be least interested in making the villages safe,” said Seema Rawat and Kusum Nautiyal.

Leopards attacking children in courtyards or waylaying them on their way to school is a common occurrence in Uttarkashi, Tehri, Pauri and Chamoli districts of Uttarakhand.

“The big cats seem to be going after the kids as food has become scarce in the hills,” said a forest official. Over a dozen children have been killed by leopards in the State over the past two years.

Meanwhile, fear looms large over Salawala, Anarwala, Forest Research Institute and Indian Military Academy campuses in Dehra Dun city as leopards were being sighted there over the past fortnight. Although forest officials have set up traps, the leopards have been successful in avoiding them. Residents have been asked to stay indoors after sunset for safety.