The Kerala Opposition Congress-led UDF and the BJP are observing a one-day hartal on Friday, 13 January, at Mananthavady in the Wayanad district where a farmer lost his life to a suspected tiger attack.
The family of Thomas (50), a farmer, who succumbed to injuries after the attack by the big cat while he was engaged in agricultural work on his farmland, has demanded compensation and a government job for one of his dependents.
Meanwhile, state Forest Minister AK Saseendran told reporters that the forest department was looking into the demands of the family and compensation as per norms will be provided to the kin.
Saseendran said this was the sixth death since 2015 and it shows that the wildlife presence in the forests of Kerala has increased.
“It seems like the wild animals are venturing into the human habitat in search of food… The government will do a scientific study into the carrying capacity of wildlife in the forest. We can either rehabilitate the animals or cull them if necessary. However, the Supreme Court has stayed the birth control measures of the governments through an order,” Saseendran said.
The minister said the Kerala government will move the apex court to expedite the hearing in the case.
He said the strike and protests are part of attempts on behalf of the people to convey their concerns regarding the incident.
“For the past many months, the forest officers ranging from the wardens to the senior officials are risking their lives to resolve the man-animal conflict. The locals have no complaints against the forest officials. We need to find a permanent solution for this issue,” Saseendran, who met the media in Thiruvananthapuram, said.
Meanwhile, Kannur Range DIG Rahul R Nair visited the house of Thomas.
Nair asked the people not to spread rumours and said that more police force has been deployed in the area anticipating protests.
“A life has been lost. There is a man-animal conflict here. Senior police officials are here. We need to ensure the rule of law. We need to avoid rumours,” Nair told reporters.
Forest officials had said that the incident was reported from the Puthussery-Vellaramkunnu area of Makkiyad forest station in the Mananthavady range.
Saseendran said cage traps and CCTV cameras have been installed to catch the big cat.
The officials are also considering catching the beast by using the chemical immobilisation method, if necessary.
Thomas was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital and later shifted to a private hospital in Kalpetta for better medical care but succumbed to his wounds on Thursday evening.
Villagers alleged that the big cat had been lurking around the thickly-populated village for quite some time, creating panic among the local residents.
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