Rampaging elephants in the Indian state of Jharkhand are disrupting the country’s parliamentary elections.
Herds of elephants often break out heavily forested areas areas in the state and destroy crops and villages. Towns and cities have not been spared either.
Alpana Sinha, a resident of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, told the Press Association that many voters were too afraid to go to the polls.
“We are scared. People in the remote areas are badly affected by this situation,” she said.
“The government has not done much to help.
“Many villagers did not go out to vote. Those that did had to stand at polling booths fearing that elephants might come by.”
Jamshedpur, an industrial city, has been also reportedly been at the mercy of the elephants. Other places that are affected include the districts of Dumka, Sahibgang, Jamshedpur-Dumka, Chaibasa, Shikaripada and Jamtara.
Forest officials said that people were supplied with kerosene to burn when the elephants approach their villages, but this tactic does not always work.
In at least five out of the 14 parliamentary constituencies, elephants create major problems and of the 24 districts in the state, at least 13 are affected. In many areas, villagers put up posters demanding that political parties and the government take action.
Political parties have promised to tackle the problem after more than 600 people have died in the confrontation with herds of wild elephants during the past six years.
A proposal to get domestic elephants from Orissa to help train the rampaging herds has been put on file. People reportedly spend the nights on trees out of fear.