Victims of tusker attack deprived of compensation

February 5, 2015

JHAPA, FEB 05 - Kaushila Dahal of Bahundangi 8 in the district still remembers that fateful morning of July 8, 2003 when her husband Tara Bahadur was on his way home after watering their fields. Suddenly an elephant appeared out of nowhere and trampled him to death.

Twelve years after the incident, Kaushila still curses the day her husband closed his eyes forever. “I want the old wounds to heal, but the painful memories remain,” she said. Kaushila is only one among numerous victims of wild elephant attack in Bahundangi. Many people in this village mourn for loved ones and relatives killed by marauding wild elephants.

And among them Jagmaya Thapa of Bahundangi 2 has the most horrifying story to relate: She lost both her newly-wed son and daughter-in-law to wild elephant attack one fateful night in the year 2003.

A wild elephant that entered the settlement from India killed her son Sambhu and his wife Durga while they were sleeping in their hut. The couple had been married only a fortnight ago. Jagmaya said that she did see the elephant entering her son’s hut that night. She even shouted at the top of her lungs in order to warn her son and daughter-in-law of the impending

danger. But the couple were probably in deep sleep and heard nothing. They were soon trampled to death by the wild tusker. “The wild elephant entered the house by breaking the door and trampled my son and daughter-in-law to death,” Jagmaya said remembering that day.

A few hours before mauling the couple, the same elephant had killed one Rana Bahadur Diyali in the same area.

The elephant had ruthlessly tossed Diyali away from his house after barging inside, the victim’s daughter Harkamaya said.

Pampha Guragain of Devigunj 8, who was trampled to death by a wild elephant on 15 July, 1988, is considered to be the first victim of tusker attack in Beldangi, according to the locals.   

Although district officials started maintaining data regarding wild elephant attack in Jhapa only after 1995, it is estimated that till now 28 people have lost their lives in elephant attacks in Beldangi alone. The District Forest Office, Jhapa has maintained a data for the last four years only, which shows more than 20 deaths from elephant attacks in the district.

Meanwhile, none of the families affected by wild elephant attacks before 2011 have received any compensation from the government. Kaushila, who lost her husband in the year 2003, visited the District Administration Office many times hoping to get some relief or compensation, but to no avail.

Jagmaya, mother of Sambhu and Durga Thapa, also suffered the same fate.

 “I have received nothing but assurances,” Jagmaya said angrily, “Maybe the relief and compensation was indeed distributed, but someone else embezzled it.”

Source: The Kathmandu Post