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Panic grips villagers as man-eater on prowl in Madhya Pradesh

BHOPAL: The attack on a middle-aged villager by man-eater tiger triggered panic among Baigas living in the buffer zone of Bandhavgarh National Park (BNP) in Umaria and Katni districts of Madhya Pradesh.

Gareeba Baiga, a 49-year-old man of Checheria village in Umaria district, is the latest victim of the tiger on the prowl. He was attacked by a tiger while grazing goats. The feline tried to drag him to the forest, but was saved by villagers who gathered in large numbers after hearing his cries for help.

Angry villagers stormed a forest office, demanding protection and compensation for families of the injured. They deflated tyres of all vehicles of forest department, demanded on the spot compensation and intervention of top officials. They also attacked a ranger with canes besides taking three other employees hostage. The national park officers pleaded them to watch out for the ferocious animal and avoid forests.

The tiger has been on the prowl across an area spanning some 60 miles, they said. Police arrested three people for instigating villagers against forest officials.

Wildlife enthusiast Pusphendra Nath Dwivedi said the tiger must have strayed out of the park in search of prey. “There is widespread anger among villagers,” he said.

Earlier, a 45-year-old man was mauled by three tigers in buffer zone of the park in Katni district late on Sunday night. The deceased was identified as Ramdas Baiga, a resident of Baghdhari village. He had left his home at 5.30 pm in search of a missing buffalo towards Khatoli range and did not return. The tigers ate him leaving behind mutilated skull.

Irked villagers blocked the national highway demanding compensation for the deceased’s family. Forest department announced a compensation of Rs 10,000 to family of the tribal.