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Day after 'revenge killing' of trapped leopard, 150 booked

Dehradun: A day after a seven-year-old male leopard was burnt alive by a mob in the Pabo block of Pauri Garhwal on Tuesday, 150 villagers were booked on the complaint of forest officials. Meanwhile, the role of forest authorities and police have also come under the scanner.
The divisional forest officer (DFO) of Pauri, Mukesh Kumar, said, "An FIR has been lodged against 150 people of three to four villages, some of them unknown. An investigation is underway to ascertain the events that led up to the crime." Meanwhile, Anil Rawat, pradhan of Saplori village, who himself has been booked, claimed section 144 wasn't imposed in the village, as mandated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in case a carnivore wanders into a human habitat, which led to a mob surrounding the cage.
The incident, which has been called a "revenge killing" by forest authorities as it was probably the same leopard that killed a 47-years-old woman in Saplori village of Nagdev forest range on May 15, took place at 11 am on Tuesday. Cages with dogs were installed at two spots to trap the leopard and the feline walked into one of them around 5:30 am. Anil Rawat said while a forest team arrived at the spot in the next half an hour, residents demanded to speak to the DFO and the ranger. "People from neighboring villages, some of who had lost their children and other family members to leopard attacks, also gathered at the place. They waited for hours for the senior forest authorities to arrive, demanding to know what measures would be taken to prevent such attacks in the future. Emotions ran high, as people felt they were not heard," he said.
"Senior forest officers arrived around 11 am, but by then the mob overpowered them, threw dry grass and petrol on the cage with the leopard in it, and set fire to it," a villager told.
Ambika Rawat, daughter of the woman who was killed, feels there was nothing wrong with burning the animal to death. "Villagers waited for almost five hours for senior forest authorities to arrive. They lost patience and took matters into their own hands. We live in constant fear of death," she said.

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