A day after a leopard allegedly strayed into a house on the UP-Delhi border, leading to a wild chase by foresters, policemen and the district administration all through the night, officials from the forest department rescued the animal early Friday morning from inside the house it was locked inside. Forest department officials and residents of Bhopura, where the leopard had injured three people, including a 14-year-old boy, congratulated 22-year-old Ankit, who had raced towards his uncle’s house to lock the leopard inside a room in the house, for his alertness and bravery.
Officials from the forest department, who had come to the village from Meerut late Thursday night, found the leopard inside Dharampal Singh Prajapati’s house in Krishna Vihar Kuti village in Bhopura and tranquilised it before taking it away. Cleaning up his house before setting out for work at a export factory in east Delhi’s Gandhinagar, Singh on Friday morning said” “Had my nephew, Ankit, not locked up the leopard, it would have injured many more, and who knows, maybe even killed someone.”
Singh’s daughter Preeti (22), who is set to get married later this year, narrowly escaped an attack on Thursday” “Had she not ducked, ran upstairs and alerted Ankit when the leopard tried to jump on her, I would have lost my daughter. Ankit, too, could have been injure”,” Singh said.
“I used trainings and lessons from my NCC sessions in college. The National Cadet Corps train us how to fend off a wild animal in natural habitat and in human settlements. We have been told to corner an animal and force it into a house or closed space when it enters human settlements. That is why I locked the gates when I saw the leopard slip into my uncle’s house,” said Ankit, who studies Political Science at Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, Delhi University.
The leopard, which had strayed into the village around 8.30 pm on Thursday night, bit 30-year-old Bittu Kumar on his arm and chest, knocking him off his two-wheeler. It then went on to injure a 14-year-old child on his head. The leopard then slipped into Singh’s house, and Ankit, who had been hiding behind a car nearby, ran up to the door and bolted it, securing the animal. The village stayed up all night, with a posse of police personnel from Sahibabad police station, animal rights activists, the district administration and forest department officials. The noise and frenzy outside forced the leopard into hiding behind the mattresses Singh had stored in the room on the ground floor.”
“The animal was so scared that it did not even eat the two chickens that the locals had released into the room to get the animal to stir so that it could be seen. No one had seen the leopard after Ankit locked the gates perhaps because the animal was terrified,” Sumedha Iyer from the People for Animals, an NGO, said. At 3 am, when the team from Meerut arrived, a brick was wrenched out from the rear wall of the house and a lathi dropped to disturb the animal. Immediately, the leopard jumped out of its place of hiding.
Forest official then shot a tranquiliser gun and another after opening the gates to Singh’s house. The sedated animal was rescued around 6 am, bringing to an end the 12-hour-long frenzy and excitement in the village, which had never spotted a leopard before.
“If Ankit had not acted that fast, the leopard would have injured more people and the villagers would have panicked and beat it to death like locals did in Gurgaon recently,” said Iyer, whose team had rushed down to the village from their Ghaziabad headquarters on Thursday night to ensure the animal is not shot dead or lynched.