In what the state forest department is calling a “freak incident”, a middle-aged leopard strayed into Raiganj town of North Dinajpur district on Monday morning. Forest officials said the leopard entered the city and entered the home of resident Biplab Saha at around 9 am.
“Saha has been ailing, and therefore was at home with his family,” said District Forest Officer Dipanna Dutta. A frightened Saha, his wife and children locked themselves in the bedroom where Saha was resting and raised an alarm. However, despite neighbours and residents gathering at the spot, the leopard managed to escape after attacking a number of people.
Over the next couple of hours, chased by a huge crowd, the leopard moved from one corner of the town to another. But enraged and cornered, the leopard attacked at least 20 persons in Raiganj, all of whom have been admitted to the district hospital.
“We had netted the whole area. We called the wildlife squad to help us. Then my staff, in addition to the wildlife squad – at least 30 of us – chased the leopard,” said Dutta. The chase lasted the whole day, and it was only later in the evening between 5 pm and 5.30 pm that the animal was finally caught by wildlife officials.
“We have sent the animal to Sukna sanctuary,” said Dutta. Principal Conservator of Forests in West Bengal, Pradeep Dass, called this “a freak incident”.
“This area has historically had no leopards…There are no forests nearby. We believe the leopard travelled here from Bihar. This is the first time a leopard has been spotted here in the last 60 years,” said Dass. Forest officials are investigating as to how the leopard came to be in the area.