JORHAT, Nov 25 � In protest against the alleged failure of Forest officials to protect paddy fields from marauding herds of wild elephants on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra in Jorhat district, hundreds of farmers blocked the National Highway-37 at Lahdoigarh today, throwing traffic out of gear.
More than 200 vehicles were stranded on the highway for two hours due to the blockade this morning.
Though the farmers of more than 10 villages in the area appealed to the district Forest officials to protect their paddy fields from the 150-odd wild elephants, the latter have apparently failed to do so. On Sunday evening, only eight Forest guards were seen guarding the paddy in the vast agricultural area.
Villagers of Lahdoigarh Brahmangaon, Borkhelia, Dhekiakhowa, etc., alleged that the guards cannot perform their duties properly as they have insufficient ammunition and crackers to drive away the jumbo herd.
Officials from the district administration today assured the villagers of protecting the crops from the elephants, upon which the villagers withdrew their protest on the highway.
�We were assured that our crops would be protected. Officials from the administration said that they would convene a meeting with Forest Department officials to chase away elephants from our agricultural area,� said Ranjit Bora, a farmer from Lahdoigarh.
Teok Correspondent adds: Irate villagers of Jhanjimukh, Meleng Balichapori, Namchuk, Dhekiakhowa and its adjoining areas said the herd of elephants, which takes shelter on the chaporis of the Brahmaputra river, maraud their villages at night in search of food. �We have approached the Forest officials on several occasions, but they have miserably failed to push the tuskers away from the area. To invite the attention of the Government, we lodged our protest by blocking the highway today,� stated a protester.
The Kakojan regional unit of the AJYCP and the Bhumi Suraksha Oikya Mancha also supported the protest and took part in it. The affected villagers have warned to continue their agitation if the Forest officials fail to protect their crops.