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12 Jul 2017

Bison and fake call help thwart 'attack' at Chapramari sanctuary office

TT, Jalpaiguri, July 11: A fake phone call and the presence of a bison seemed to have thwarted a possible attack on a state forest department office in Jalpaiguri last night, forest officers said.
Two guards posted at the Chapramari sanctuary office - Manzur Rehman and Ramkumar Rai - had locked themselves up in the duty room last night when they saw a van screeching to halt nearby and some masked men getting off it armed with khukuris.
"Around midnight, a pick-up van came near the office. A gaur (Indian bison) was standing in front of the building. The guards apprehended that the van had Gorkhaland supporters in it and locked themselves up in the room as they did not have arms," said a forest officer.
The occupants of the van did not come out of the vehicle until the bison moved away two hours later.
"Around 2am, four to five youths got off the vehicle. Their faces were covered and they were carrying khukuris (knives). The guards got all the more scared and even closed the window," the officer said.
The masked youths knocked on the door repeatedly and asked Rai and Rehman to come out. Some of them also threw stones at the door.
Apprehending an attack, one of the guards dialled the beat officer from his cellphone but the call didn't go through, another officer said.
"He, however, continued talking loudly, giving the impression to the youths outside that the beat officer was on the line. The guard shouted for help and said the forest team should also carry firearms," the source said.
The fake phone call appeared to have worked.
"They left the place hurriedly and headed towards Sipchu," the forester said.
"The presence of the gaur delayed the possible attackers by around 2 hours. They could not get out of the vehicle until the animal left. Otherwise, they could have stormed the office," he added.
The forester pointed out that the same building had been torched in 2011.
Samir Sikdar, the Gorumara north range officer, said: "We have informed the police. A decision was taken to increase security in the area."
Debasish Chakraborty, the subdivisional police officer of Malbazar, said a probe had been started.

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