Karnataka awards compensation to man trampled by its elephant in Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad

The Karnataka Congress government will be paying Rs 15 lakhs as compensation to the family of a man killed by an elephant from the state in AICC leader Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency of Wayanad in Kerala.

Gandhi, who broke away from his scheduled Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra as a part of his Lok Sabha campaign to visit the victim’s family on Saturday, had asked the Karnataka government to compensate the family on humanitarian grounds. The Karnataka government’s move comes at a time when Lok Sabha elections are a few months away, with the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala being a part of the Congress’ INDIA alliance for the Parliament polls, but a rival at the regional level.

In a letter to Gandhi, Karnataka forest minister Eshwar Khandre said that his department plans to host a meeting with forest departments of Kerala and TamilNadu to come up with an action plan for avoiding man-animal conflicts. Karnataka, the minister wrote, had the highest number of elephants in India at 6,395. “Due to several reasons, forest cover is decreasing and the number of elephants coming into the human habitat is increasing,” he added.

The elephant had been radio-collared in Karnataka’s Hassan district, and was translocated to Bandipur forest on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu-Kerala border in November last year. Ajeesh, the victim, was trampled to death by the elephant on February 10, in Wayanad’s Mananthavady area, triggering flash protests from local residents. Khandre had then argued that elephants could not be labelled “Karnataka elephant” or “Kerala elephant” since they were migratory in nature.

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