Assam BJP MLA in soup after ‘Laden’ dies

Assam BJP MLA in soup after ‘Laden’ dies

DH Photo

Villagers tagged him as 'Laden' after he allegedly killed five persons on October 29 creating terror in Matia in western Assam's Goalpara district.

Padma Hazarika, a BJP MLA, who fired the dart and tranqualised him 12 days later renamed him as Krishna as it was captured on the Raas Purnima, a Hindu festival and promised to "train and prepare" him as a saviour like Lord Krishna to protect people from similar elephant depredation. But the 35-year-old male wild elephant died following a massive cardiac arrest on Sunday morning, prompting many to question the MLA's "excess" in handling the rogue elephant.

The elephant died in Orang National Park, about 230km away, where he was transported in a truck on November 12, a day after it was tranqualised and captured by Hazarika with the help of two kunkis (trained elephants) and forest personnel. 

"The post-mortem found that the elephant died due to a massive heart attack. I have never seen such a massive heart attack of an elephant. Its heart had multiple areas of necrosis (death of tissues in a living body) and there was a massive blood clot. We are still not in a position to blame the tranqualisation for his death but the capture and transportation could have added to his stress," senior veterinary expert Kushal Sarma, who, along with three others conducted the post-mortem told DH on Sunday evening. Sarma was part of an eight-member expert committee set up by forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya on October 30. 

Hazarika, a BJP MLA from Sootea constituency took Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's permission and reached Matia with two of his kunkis in trucks soon after a drone camera identified the rogue elephant hiding inside Chatabari reserve forest in Goalpara, close to the border with Meghalaya's Garo hills. Movement of wild elephants is common in the area. Forest officials said the elephant turned aggressive as it was in a state of musth caused by the sudden rise in reproductive hormones. 

Hazarika had fired the second dart on November 11, after which it became immobile. "He was doing fine when I visited Orang on Friday and gave him food with my own hands. I am shocked over his death suddenly," said the MLA, who claimed to possess expertise in capturing wild elephants. He denied the possibility of overdose causing the elephant's death. 

Forest minister Suklabaidya also expressed shock over the elephant's death.

"The elephant should have been tranqualised by our forest and veterinary experts as per the protocol. How could the MLA overrule them and fired the dart? There could be an overdose of chemicals used to tame the elephant. Let there be a thorough investigation to find our the fault committed by Hazarika or the forest department," said Nani Das, an activist in Golapara. 

Man-elephant conflict has increased in Assam over the years and according to information furnished by the state government in the Assembly in February this year, 761 people died in jumbo attacks since 2010 while 249 elephants also died during the same period.  

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