A deer park, housing bear, hyena, birds and snakes besides chital deer, was set on fire in Jhargram a day after the gunning down of four persons and torching of tankers and sponge iron units as the orgy of Maoist-backed violence hit Bengal's troubled West Midnapore district.
Police said about 2000 armed people including Maoists and the 'Sidhu Kanu Militia' of the tribal Maoist-backed People's Committee Against Police Atrocities marched to the deer park and animal rescue centre set up by the Zoo Authority of India and warned all the employees to go inside their quarters. The mob then broke open the park's boundary wall, went past the closed gate smashing the large aquarium located on the side and then set part of the premises on fire gutting thatched huts and tourist cottages. The park had an enviable collection of 52 chital, four bears, five fishing cats, a hyena and numerous birds and snakes including a python, but the fate of the animals could only be clear on Monday as the security forces could not venture inside the park at night, forest department sources said.
The mob then headed back to Bandhgora and set aflame the deserted Communist Party of India-Marxist local committee office on way, police said. Fire brigade personnel later prevented the flames in the park from spreading nearby.
Earlier, three CPI-M workers Sisir Jana, Anil Chalak, Daya Chalak were gunned down at Dharampur and Chandra near Jhargram and another person Amol Patra at Bainta village by Maoists in past two days, all branded as police informers. Ganesh Hansda, a gram panchayat member of Chandra village, was shot and seriously injured. A sponge iron factory was also vandalised at Jitusole and 25 trucks, 12 motorbikes and three oil tankers were set ablaze on Saturday by PCPA members in protest against the alleged arrest of two of their activists few days back.