Wayanad demands Rahul Gandhi’s presence amid protests; here’s why

| Updated: 18 February, 2024 1:06 pm IST

WAYANAD: On Sunday, Wayanad witnessed significant protests, prompting residents to demand the presence of Rahul Gandhi, the senior Congress leader and MP representing the constituency.

Criticism mounted over Gandhi’s absence in Wayanad amid simmering protests following the tragic death of two people trampled by wild elephants. Residents expressed frustration at Gandhi’s silence on the recent wildlife attack, emphasising the urgent need for his involvement in addressing critical issues facing the district.

K. Prasad, a local farmer and homestay owner, lamented Gandhi’s absence, highlighting the escalating human-animal conflict as a pressing concern demanding immediate attention. He criticised the lack of concrete steps taken by Gandhi to mitigate the menace, urging both state and central governments to intervene immediately.

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“When we need the MP the most, he is missing from the constituency. We had voted for him in 2019 hoping that the critical issues facing this district will be addressed. The man-animal conflict is the biggest threat the entire community residing in Wayanad is facing. It is unfortunate that he has not taken any concrete steps to control the menace. The central government should intervene in this matter on an emergency basis as the matter is getting critical and volatile day by day,” K Prasad told The New Indian.

Residents also pointed out lapses by district forest officials, accusing them of failing to alert the public about the recent wild tusker incursion that led to the tragic death of a 52-year-old near Mananthavady.

Experts warned of a potential surge in wildlife attacks during the upcoming summer season, attributing the phenomenon to declining water and food sources in neighbouring states. Easwaran Krishnan, a retired chief forest veterinary officer, underscored the likelihood of increased human-wildlife conflict, particularly as animals cross state boundaries.

“The human-wildlife conflict is likely to increase in the coming months. When one state captures animals and releases them back into the wild, there is a good chance of them crossing into other states,” he told TNI.

The day saw heightened tension in Pulpally, a small town in the hilly district, with widespread protests erupting following the death of Paul, a forest department official, prompting a Congress-led hartal.

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