Monday, April 08, 2002

Those pesky monkeys!

Tuesday April 2, 2:11 PM

Monkeys destroy library, stall classes in girls' college

By Indo-Asian News Service

Kolkata, Apr 2 (IANS) Scores of monkeys have swamped a girls' college in the hill resort of Darjeeling in eastern India, destroying thousands of books, stalling classes, clawing and slapping the students.

The monkeys have torn to shreds at least 6,000 books in the library and broken furniture. The damage to property caused by them exceeds Rs.60,000.

Residential students and teacher of Loreto College in Darjeeling, about 625 km north from here, are now under constant fear of a repeat attack from the monkeys, which have made the college precincts their home.

College authorities say the aggressive animals were unafraid of human beings. The truant monkeys have destroyed the college library, clawed and slapped students and invaded classrooms bringing lessons to an abrupt halt.

The college canteen has been a favourite haunt for the monkeys and students have reported instances of food packets being snatched by the animals.

Help had been sought from the district authorities, but till now nothing had been done to "mitigate our sufferings," a teacher said.

Monkey attacks are a seasonal menace in the Darjeeling hills. The girls' college came under their attack last year as well.

The district authorities say their hands are tied as local residents oppose any action against the monkeys, considered scared by Hindus.

District forest officials say after receiving complaints from Loreto College last year, they had captured 30 monkeys and released them in a faraway jungle. But the local residents opposed that and stuck posters on walls condemning the action.

"So, this year we don't know what to do," a confused forest official said.

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