A fierce war between two groups of monkeys in the heart of the Taj city took two human lives.
Ghatia Azam Khan police chowki men said an old house in the Satsang Gali was under repair. The owner and a labourer were standing close to a wall that had to be demolished. Just then armies of monkeys fighting for territorial rights ransacked and jumped all over the area, bringing the damaged wall down on Monday evening.
The two men were crushed under the rubble and debris and could not be saved due to severe head injuries.
The deceased Laxman Tulisiani, a gold valuer, and Veera, a beldaar, were on the second floor of the dilapidated house when the wall of the third floor fell over them due to more than 35 monkeys locked in a furious showdown.
The injured were rushed to the GG Nursing Home, but could not be saved.
Locals have demanded rounding of monkeys from the city. Agra citizens have appealed to the district administration to take effective steps to curb simian nuisance in the city.
Mayor of the Agra Municipal Corporation, Navin Jain, has been asked to shift the monkeys from the city to the forest areas, as there have been a series of fatal cases. The Corporation had launched a drive a few years ago, but animal rights groups stalled the exercise.
Locals demand drastic action against rampaging monkeys who have made life difficult for people living in old city areas.
Agra these days is living in the scare of bovine, canine, and simian menace. Even tourists have become victims. Last year there was a hue and cry when a monkey snatched a newly born from the lap of a mother and killed the infant, in Runukta village, 20 km away.
The district authorities had then made a number of promises but nothing much happened.
“The elected representatives have ignored the problem, but the condition is really appalling, as citizens live in constant fear of attacks from the monkeys,” said a temple priest of Yamuna Kinara Road, Nandan Shrotriya.
“Thousands of violent monkeys live in this area along the river Yamuna, as the faithfuls regularly feed them bananas and bread,” charged Ranjan Sharma, an eco-activist.
A monkey conference was held last August by a local NGO Satya Mev Jayate.
“We have been regularly approaching the authorities with our suggestions and even an offer to help financially, but for some strange reasons the administration has been dragging its feet,” trustee Mukesh Jain said.
Twice efforts have been made to shift some monkeys to forest areas, but the green activists have stalled the process of transfer.
The situation is grave. Estimates of the simian population vary from 20,000 to nearly a lakh.
“Their population is more in the old city areas where terraces are contiguous. People are no longer able to enjoy terrace facilities as the monkeys have been regularly attacking women and children, in particular,” Vijay Nagar colony resident Sudhir Gupta said.
“The whole of Braj Mandal, from Mathura, Vrindavan to Goverdhan and Bateshwar in Agra is living under threat from simians who now resort to all kinds of tricks to snatch food or attack women and children. Their population has gone up phenomenally. During the lockdown they became more violent as food supply was snapped,” green activist Shravan Kumar Singh said.
“The dwindling forest cover, and fewer fruit-bearing trees being planted has compounded the problem. The need is to develop forests and plant more fruit-bearing trees rather than ornamental ones. The monkeys too are a part of the ecological system, they too have some rights. Let us provide for them instead of cursing them,” environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya said.