In a unique piece of news, Assam forest officials have seized a train engine for mowing down elephants inside the Lumding Reserve Forest in Hojai district.
The incident happened weeks ago and now when the inquiry was set up, it was found that the driver surpassed the speed limit of 40-kmph. “Our caution order was violated as the train speed was high,” Pulak Kumar Choudhury, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) from Hojai district said.
As the train was running at a speed of 60kmph, it dragged an adult and one-year-old calf for nearly a kilometre (km) before the engine came to a grinding halt.
“The department shall not fail to take a tough stand against the Railways. The killing of elephants on tracks must stop forthwith,” Assam environment and forests minister Parimal Suklabaidya said.
The accident happened near the Pathorkhola railway station when the elephants were trying to cross the rail tracks.
“This is probably the first such instance in the country, when a railway locomotive has been seized in connection with death on train tracks,” said MK Yadava chief wildlife warden, Assam.
The loco pilot and his assistant were suspended after the incident came to light.
The elephants that were killed come under the list of Schedule I animals under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. That is why under forest offence, the employees have been suspended and necessary action against them would be taken.