As garden workers found the body of a class-VIII student, Raman Tewari, in the Tulsipara tea plantation in Alipurduar today, they suspected that the boy may have been killed by a leopard. The boy was a resident of Ramjhora tea plantation and was missing since Sunday, while his family members had filed a missing diary at the Birpara police station on Sunday. Tewari went to the Ramjhora High School.

Local people, meanwhile, blocked the Birpara-Lankapara state highway near the Ramjhora tea plantation, alleging that the forest department had failed to stop deaths caused by wild animals, especially leopards that have been on the prowl in the tea gardens in the district.

“The agitators also demanded that forest officials visit the area and assure the villagers of doing the needful,” local sources said. They also stopped police personnel from recovering the dead body until forest officials reached the spot, it is learnt.

“We did not know where the boy went missing. There are forests under the Jalpaiguri forest division around. Forensic tests of the body should be done. If it is proved that the boy was killed by a leopard, we must take steps as per the forest laws,” said the DFO of the Jaldapara Wild Life Division, Kumar Bimal.

Several incidents of leopard attack had been reported near the Jaldapara National Park a few months ago, while this incident has brought back the fear among the people living nearby.

“Locals found the leopard near the dead body today. The leopard killed the boy, and anyone who sees the body can say that he was mauled to death. We demand assurances of proper action in this regard from forest authorities, but no one showed up today,” said a local youth, Neel Lama. While police failed to recover the body amid the protest, the roadblock was not withdrawn until late in the evening.