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Sinkukandam residents launch round-the-clock strike to address wild elephant attacks

Residents of tribal colonies in an area of India have begun a day and night strike to protest the High Court’s directive to stay the operation to capture the wild tusker Arikomban. The strike started at Sinkukandam, a village that has suffered frequent wild elephant raids. The protesters declared they will continue the strike until Arikomban is captured. Another wild elephant attacked a Sinkukandam resident, Wilson, on Thursday night, causing minor injuries. Residents of Pooppara, another village in the district, have also joined the protest, demanding a long-term solution to the human-animal conflict. Public representatives will participate in a dharna at Pooppara on Friday at 3 pm.

An all-party meeting held on Thursday decided to continue the strike with the participation of the people who were attacked by wild elephants. The residents also demanded the court send an expert committee to review the situation of places hit by the wild elephant attacks. Arikomban, a 35-year-old wild tusker, has been raiding ration shops where rice for public distribution is stored. It also attacked many houses and charged at trucks plying on the Munnar roads. The forest department and district authority prepared a detailed plan to capture the tusker after receiving complaints from residents. But the High Court issued a stay order on the mission, observing that areas disturbed by the wild elephants had been an elephant habitat before the tribals were resettled there.

The division bench requested records and reports on the resettlement of tribal people in the area back in 2000, stating, ‘If it was an elephant habitat, you had no business resettling people there and putting them in danger. The court said that resettling people in an elephant habitat was the root of the entire problem.’ The protesters are upset that instead of helping them, the court is focusing on the history of the tribal resettlement. The court declined to issue any direction in the interim stay for the capture and captivity of the wild tuskers, including Arikomban.


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