Marauding monkeys create panic in Shimla, woman dies

Shimla, Marauding monkeys prowling in gangs on the streets of this popular tourist resort has created panic among residents and tourists with a woman being their latest victim.

A mother of two died last week after falling off the roof of her house. According to the police, Mamta Sachdeva was on the balcony when she was attacked by the simians. She jumped off the balcony in panic.

In another incident, a girl was bitten by a langur in her school Friday.

"They have been causing havoc by biting the passersby, stealing food and brawling on the streets," said local resident Ambika Sharma.

"It's an extremely dicey situation once again as the wildlife officials tasked with managing the monkeys have failed to check the menace," she added.

Shimla Municipal Corporation deputy mayor Takinder Panwar charged the government with failure to contain the menace.

"On an average, more than 100 dog bite and over 60 monkey bite cases are being reported every month in the Rippon Hospital (which was set up in 1884 by the British rulers and functioned as the government district hospital) alone," he said.

Panwar said the monkey menace has reached an alarming proportion and needs to be tackled scientifically.

Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, state convener of farmers' outfit Kheti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said that selective killing of the marauding simians is the only solution.

"The state high court in 2011 restrained the state government's decision to allow farmers to shoot monkeys that have been destroying their crops and fruits. Since then the previous (BJP) and the present government (Congress) have failed to convince the court about the need to declare to go for selective killing," Tanwar told IANS.

Export of monkeys, which was allowed till 1978, for research is the only option to tackle their growing numbers, Tanwar added.

Coming down heavily on the state government, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice V.K. Ahuja Jan 6, 2011, directed authorities to stop issuing permits to kill monkeys.

"The state should have to protect all the beings... by giving permission to kill the problematic monkeys, the state has not understood and applied its mind to understand the basic intent of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," the bench had observed.

The interim order came on the petitions of the state chapter of non-governmental organisation People for Animals (PFA) and central agency Animal Welfare Board of India, which challenged the government decision to allow killings of monkeys which have been damaging crops.

The petitions are still pending in the high court.

In localities like Jakhu, Tutikandi, Nabha, Phagli, Kaithu, Summer Hill, Tutu, Boileauganj, Chotta Shimla and Sanjauli, the residents have literally converted their houses into jails by erecting iron grills on the doors and windows to check the intrusion of monkeys.

Himachal Pradesh Forest Development Corp vice chairman Kewal Pathania said the government has been taking measures to deal with the monkey menace.

A multi-pronged strategy is being adopted so that besides preventing damage to standing crops, the common people could be saved from nuisance of the wild animals.

Pathania, quoting Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri, said the government would bring a resolution in the next legislative assembly session seeking permission for lifting the ban on the export of monkeys.

More than 85,000 monkeys have been sterilized till date through seven monkey sterilization centres, he added.

Wildlife officials said around seven years ago the monkeys were trapped from Shimla and banished to the jungles and that was the best technique to reduce their population.

"Now their population has grown manifold and they need to be relocated once again," said an official.

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