Gowda faces farmers' ire over elephant attacks

Gowda faces farmers' ire over elephant attacks

Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, on Saturday, was forced to visit Chikkallur, under Igur Grama Panchayat, Hethuru Hobli, as villagers resorted to massive protest demonstration — along with the body of a victim of elephant attack — demanding that he visit the village to hear their grievances.

Lakshman Gowda, a farmer, was killed around 7 pm on Friday. The elephant stood at the same spot till 10 pm — not allowing the villagers to go near the victim. As the forest department personnel learnt that the villagers were angry, they arrived at 11 pm along with police personnel. The villagers vented their anger by damaging the department jeep. The elephant was chased away into the forest later.

The villagers sat on a dharna from then on, demanding Deve Gowda visit them and provide a permanent solution to the elephant menace. According to them, he has remained indifferent to the hardships faced by the people in the region, despite five persons losing their lives in elephant attacks in the past two years.

They alleged that Gowda, who represents them in Parliament, had not even visited them when they were grieving the death of their fellow farmers in the past. Farmers from over 30 villages, bordering forests in the region, shouted slogans against Gowda, MLA H K Kumaraswamy and the government.

When Gowda arrived at 12 noon, the protesters besieged him and prevented him from paying his last respects to the victim. “If one person dies in Bangalore due to elephant attack, it becomes a national news. But, if a farmer or a student dies in the forest region, nobody cares. We are under constant threat of elephant attacks since past one decade,” they said.

The women folk too besieged Gowda demanding a permanent solution to elephant menace. “We have no guarantee till our husbands or children return from farm and school, respectively. After 6 pm, we cannot even go to our backyard. There are no proper roads or power. You forget us once you secure our votes. Shift the elephants or provide us rehabilitation in a safe place,” they said.

Gowda said shifting of elephants was impossible due to legal hurdles. He said, “I will bring the problem to the notice of the government and seek a solution. I will pressurise the State government to take steps to shift the rogue elephant temporarily.”

The protesters also attacked MLA H K Kumaraswamy, alleging that he had not taken steps to provide roads and power supply.

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