ROURKELA: After an overnight operation, the herd of eight elephants that was holed up near National Institute of Technology (NIT), could be driven just a few kilometres away from Rourkela city as a group of villagers prevented the police and forest officials from going ahead with their job on Saturday.
Reports said the officials were to guide the elephants from the plantation area near NIT campus to North Chirubera forest via Dalposh and Bondamunda
Even as the officials were engaged in guiding the elephants, the villagers prevented the movement of animals through their areas. The villagers, who stood in groups at Dalposh, Kapatmunda, Dumermunda, RS Colony, Pograbahal and Kukuda areas, claimed that if the animals were to move through their areas, their crops would be damaged.
At around 10.45 pm when the police tried to disperse the crowd between Dalposh and Bondamunda graveyard, the unruly mob clashed with forest and police teams, damaged two vans and also resorted to stone pelting.
An ASI, four forest employees and nine villagers suffered injuries.
Meanwhile, the rest of the villagers cordoned off the elephants near the graveyard demanding that they be driven towards residential areas of Bondamunda or Rourkela.
However, additional force reached the troubled area and took control of the unruly crowd. Rourkela SP Anirudh Singh and Rourkela DFO Sanjeet Kumar camped at the place till 1.30 am. Later, the elephants took the route towards Dumerta.
By Sunday evening, the herd was moving from Dumerta to Gungunjhor, the DFO said, adding that they are trying to provide safe passage to the animals to reach North Chirubera forest. He appealed to the villagers not to create obstacles on the route of the animals which would provoke them and result in damage to property.
Sources said from Gungunjhor, the animals may enter North Chirubera forest, but if the animals choose the route towards IDL Colony of Fertiliser Township of the city, it would result in another problem.
Meanwhile, another herd of 16 elephants is present near Ajeikela village and one tusker is inside the Mahipani reserve forest of Bisra range.