The head of a six-year-old girl,who was attacked by a leopard,was found in the Shastri Nagar area in Mulund (West) on Monday morning,sparking fear among residents.
According to the police,the girl was dragged away and mauled by a leopard on Sunday when she had gone to relieve herself near the boundary wall of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Sanjana Thorat,the daughter of a daily wage labourer,had ventured out of her house in Shankar Tekdi area of Mulund when a leopard attacked her and dragged her inside the protected area. Her mother,who had accompanied her,raised an alarm,following which residents came running out of their houses and conducted a search for the girl from 10.30 pm till 9.15 am on Monday.
Armed with sticks and axes,residents rushed into the jungle but failed to find Sanjana. A senior forest officer said the forest department was informed about the attack at 11.55 pm while the incident took place at 10.30 pm. A team from the forest department reached the spot by 12.30 am.
Pawan Sharma,a helper from the forest department,said he received a call about the incident and set out to rescue the girl with the initial rescue team of forest officials. After searching for more than three hours,we heard that the leopard had also dragged a dog. At 3 am, the team from the Borivali national park was called. They conducted the search operation till 9.15 am when they spotted a half-eaten head of a girl metres into the forest area. We knew that the head belonged to Sanjana and sent it for post-mortem examination to Rajawadi Hospital, said Sharma.
Officers of the Mulund police station said they have filed an accidental death report in the case.
The girls parents refused to claim the head from the hospital. Gyaneshwar,her father,said he wanted the forest officers to lay traps for leopards as there could be another attack.
I turned back when I heard my daughter cry. We were stunned to see a leopard holding my daughters neck in its jaw,dragging her towards the dense forest. We threw stones at the animal and called for help, said Sangeeta,Sanjanas mother.
Gyaneshwar,who reached the spot in few seconds,said: It was too dark. I went almost 100 metres into the forest but didnt know in which direction the leopard had taken my daughter.
The leopard has tasted human blood and we fear it will come again and drag our children who play in the area, said a resident. We are planning a protest outside the national park.