Perched on a 25-feet high watchtower in an elephant corridor outside their village in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district, two men who are brothers have made it their COVID-19 quarantine facility for the past few days.
After Amar Bahadur Rai returned from his workplace in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, his brother Jiwan went to Siliguri to bring him back home in Malibhita village, about 35 km from here in the Belakoba forest range in north Bengal.
Panic-stricken villagers, however, asked both of them to stay outside Malibhita during the 14-day quarantine period.
"Thinking about the safety of our family members and village people, we decided to make the watchtower, located about half a kilometre outside the village, our home for the two weeks of quarantine," Rai said.
Rai, who holds a hotel management degree, worked in a luxury resort in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
He said he decided to return home after the lockdown was eased, since there was no work owing to lack of tourists.
A relative of Rai alleged that the village panchayat authorities were given prior information about his return, but no quarantine facility was set up, forcing the two brothers to stay in the eight square feet platform of the watchtower since June 10.
The Range Officer of Belakoba Forest, Sanjay Dutta, said the watchtower is meant for keeping an eye on elephant movement and drive them away if they try to stray into the nearby villages.
"We are facing problems since the watchtower is being used as a quarantine facility. But we did not try to drive the two men away owing to humanitarian reasons," he said.
Dutta said that the local administration has been asked to make arrangements to place them under quarantine elsewhere.
Panchayat pradhan Ranjita Roy claimed though the family had told that Rai would return from the Andamans, the authorities were not informed after his return.