Barely 100 metres from the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police (East), an elephant wandered a field near IP Extension even as a nation-wide alert was sounded for the jumbo “missing” since July.
On Tuesday evening, the police maintained that they are still looking for the 47-year-old jumbo, Laxmi, despite residents of IP Extension confirming its presence in a ground in the area till the very morning.
A newspaper had reported on Tuesday that it had found the elephant in the city. When The Hindu visited the ground in east Delhi, the animal was missing but some fodder and its dung were found on the field.
Officials of the forest department said that they had got inputs that the animal was kept next to the DCP’s office.
About a dozen people whom The Hindu met in the area said that they had seen the elephant there with two persons till 11.30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“We used to see the elephant from the gate of the ground, but we rarely went inside,” said 12-year-old Arjun Kumar, a resident of a nearby jhuggi.
“It [elephant] was here for about 15 days and there were two persons along with the animal. They used to get leaves of peepal tree for it,” said Raju Singh, 50, who runs a tea stall outside the ground.
“There was a broken DJB pipeline and the water from it was collected in a ditch and the elephant used to drink water from it,” said Sonu Gola, 26, who works as a driver.
Meanwhile, DCP (East) Jasmeet Singh said that efforts have been intensified to trace the elephant.
Laxmi was supposed to be shifted to Ban Santour in Haryana as there were not enough facilities for elephants in the Capital. The forest department had issued a seizure notice for Laxmi in February and on July 1, the authorities in Haryana informed their counterparts in Delhi that the elephants can be shifted.
On July 6, the handlers escaped with the elephant by crossing Yamuna near ITO when forest department officials went to seize it. The officials later filed a complaint alleging that they were attacked by the people and an FIR was later filed.
Forest officials alleged that they had given multiple inputs to the police about the location of the handlers, but they did not pursue it.