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Frustrated at increasing animal attacks, Kashmir villagers try to set ablaze a bear
Hundreds of furious villagers, equipped with sticks and fire-torches on Saturday almost set ablaze a bear in South Kashmir's Kulgam district while they were trying to scare him away from the locality.

ANGERED AT nearly two-dozen deaths in wild animal attacks, the villagers tried to set ablaze a bear that had attacked a house in Mohammadpora village of Kulgam district. The bear escaped the onslaught, not before reportedly receiving burn injuries on his abdomen and legs.

The villagers, armed with fire-torches, surrounded the walnut tree atop of which the bear had taken shelter. According to eyewitnesses, the bear was mercilessly beaten in the presence of police and wildlife authorities, raising a serious question on their role in protecting animal rights.

“It was not an attempt to kill the bear but to scare him away. Our staff members who are stationed near the forest of the village saw it running back safely into the forest,” Wildlife warden of Kulgam-Anantnag region, Imtiyaz Ahmad told the Hindustan Times.

While violence in the state, where militants and state troops often exchange gunfire, has considerably decreased, man-animal conflicts have greatly increased. According to wildlife authorities, 643 such incidents have been reported from the year 1995 to 2009 – involving mainly bears and leopards.

Though the incident has received widespread media coverage, apparently to show the ‘inhumane’ nature of the villagers, but no one can deny the fact that life is dear to everyone and when an animal attacks a locality, it is quite obvious they will retaliate to save themselves.

Couple of years ago, a leopard was killed in police firing after it attacked a village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Though increased habitation is seen as the major reason behind these conflicts, wildlife department should make sure that people are taught about the rights of animals besides making their presence felt whenever such attacks take place.

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