Guwahati: A leopard that strayed into a village in Assam’s Dibrugarh district was beaten to death by a frenzied mob on Saturday morning.
The incident took place at Betoni Chariali, about 20km from Moran town.
Hundreds of villagers armed with bamboo sticks and sharp weapons chased, cornered and lynched the leopard allegedly in the presence of police and forest personnel.
Eye witnesses said that the leopard was taking shelter near the croplands. It was spotted by some villagers wandering in the by-lanes early morning and said to have injured four persons.
Later, in a planned attack, villagers ventured into the jungle and mobbed the leopard, bludgeoning it to death. A few villagers got injured when the leopard attacked in self-defense.
Even as police officials under Khowang police station tried to control the mob, they were overpowered. Villagers alleged that forest department officials arrived late at the spot. After killing it, the body of the leopard was dragged by villagers to an undisclosed location.
The incident took place just two days after wildlife experts and enthusiasts celebrated the successful rescue of a male leopard in Bokakhat town of Assam’s Golaghat district.
Wildlife conservationist from Assam, Kaushik Barua said, “Leopards will slowly be driven to the point of extinction. In tea garden areas of Upper Assam, human-leopard conflict has escalated due to degradation of forests around tea estates that used to act as leopard habitats. In areas around Guwahati, rapid urbanization of hills has added to the growing conflict. It’s about time we learn to live with them.”
According to unofficial reports, this is already the fourth incident of leopard lynching in Assam in the first three months of this year. In February, two leopards were killed at Barpeta. Another leopard was beaten to death by villagers in Jorhat district on 18 February.