Monkeys in Ayodhya are an angry as well as hungry lot these days. While the national lockdown has led to a total absence of tourists in the holy city, the monkeys have no one to feed them. In the past 24 hours, the monkeys have attacked and bitten 39 people.
Anil Kumar a doctor at Shri Ram hospital said that 39 people have come to the hospital after being bitten by monkeys. "This is the highest number that I have seen in a matter of few hours," he said.
According to Ram Lal Mishra, a resident, there are about 7,000 to 8,000 monkeys in Ayodhya.
"Since thousands of tourists, in normal times, come to Ayodhya and they feed monkeys with bananas, bread, puris and other eatables. The monkeys in Ayodhya were never as aggressive as the ones in Vrindavan but they made sure that they get their food by walking off with bags and sunglasses which they return only if they are given food.
"However, after the lockdown, the tourist influx has stopped. Even the local people are not moving out because all temples are shut. Monkeys are getting aggressive because they have been hungry," he explained.
Raju, one of the victims who was bitten by a monkey, said, "I was putting out clothes to dry on my terrace when a group of monkeys came and pounced on me. Before I could realize what was happening, one of them bit me on the shoulder. I have never seen monkeys behave like this."
The local people have also stopped offering food to the simians because they are also feeling the pinch of the lockdown.
"I used to keep 'chana' (gram) and 'roti' on my terrace for the monkeys but now with the uncertainty over the lockdown, I am keeping all the food grains for my family. Besides, my son owns a stationary shop which has been shut since March 22 so the income has also stopped. In such a situation, most people are unable to feed the monkeys," said Rama Gupta, a senior citizen who stays with her two sons and their families.
The local administration claims that it is providing bread and grams for monkey but the local people say that the exercise is 'inadequate'.
With all restaurants and eateries completely shut, there is no leftover food for the monkeys either.