Patna: Rampaging monkeys robbing food from the kitchens and grains from the fields have emerged as the main poll issue in a particular district in Bihar devastated by annual flooding.
For the over 50,000 population, settled in two assembly constituencies of Saharsa district, some 230km east of Patna, monkeys have become a major headache. Villagers say the army of monkeys have been invading their kitchens, tearing clothes being dried on their roof, breaking tiles of mud houses and even destroying standing crops in fields but no politician has taken their problem seriously.
Left with no options, the villagers have been compelled to deal with the money menace at their own level. They have been guarding their crops and houses in shifts to save their properties from getting destroyed by the riotous monkeys who run amok in a group of 40-50 all the time. The result is that almost every house in the two political constituencies of Saharsa has either sling shots or bamboo sticks to drive away the monkeys.
But, now the patience of the villagers is over. They have announced to vote for only those candidates who rid them of the menace. “We were left cheated in every election by the candidates who never bothered to look at our condition after getting our votes. But, now we have decided to vote for only those candidates who free us from the menace of monkeys,” said Ashutosh Jha, a resident of Padri village in Saharsa district.
He said the monkeys had been posing a great threat to their survival chances by trampling their seasonal crops and also destroying the fruits like mangoes which have been the main sources of their income in the absence of employment opportunities. “But the problem is that we can’t kill these monkeys due to the Wildlife Act which acts as their shields,” he rues.
Anshu Mishra, a resident of Bangaon village in the same district, said the monkeys have virtually let loose a reign of terror in the areas. “Once, we drove them away from the areas using bamboo sticks and sling shots but very soon they lay siege to the main road for hours. Now, we have made the monkey menace the main poll issue in this election. We are telling only one thing to the candidates reaching us for our support—Free us from monkeys and get our votes,” Anshu said.
According to the local villagers, more than 50 villages in the district are badly affected by the terror of monkeys who are said to be around 3,000 in number and roam freely in groups. Such has been their terror that some half of the 50,000 acres of cultivable land has been lying unused owing to monkey terror.
“Monkeys have robbed off our peace and properties in the past two decades. They not only invade our homes and run away with valuables but also have been destroying our standing crops such as paddy, wheat, maize. The situation is such that we have to remain attentive all the time,” said Lalitesh Mishra, a local resident.
According to reports in the local media, more than 10,000 farmers are badly affected by the monkey menace which continues for the past about two decades. “Our problem has gone unattended so far but now that the elections have arrived, we again have the opportunity to raise our point. Let’s see who shows sympathy for us,” said another villager Gaurav Kumar.
Saharsa is one of the 38 districts in Bihar having the largest number of migrant workers for lack of employment opportunities. Of the total around three million migrant workers returning homes post Corona lockdown, quite many hail from Saharsa district. It is further interesting to note that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyan” (Employment scheme for the poor) from Khagaria district which borders Saharsa.
The three-phase assembly elections in BIhar start from October 28.