The Wolfish Tact of Denying Ex-Gratia

Manjari Mishra / The Times of India / May 11, 2005

Lucknow: Wolves will always stick to their wolfish traits. They neither learn table manners nor show due respect towards governmental policies. If only these carnivours were a little civilised, life for hundreds of poor families in Terai belt of Balrampur, Behraich and Shravasti- which is known to face the recurrent wolf attacks, would have been a little better off.

These there districts, according to official records, have suffered a loss of 93 lives over the past three years. As per rules, each family of the victim is entitled to a compensation of Rs 50,000 for an adult member and Rs 25,000 for a minor but for a catch, which the wolves keep cashing on. The peculiar GO passed in 1996, makes death certificate issued by a government doctor the mandatory pre-requisites for entitlement of compensation.

Since wolves don't leave behind the dead body, a postmortem cannot be carried out. "Wolves," says Mohammad Ahsan, chief wild warden," always share their prey with other members of the pack . Remains of the community feast are later devoured by hyenas who closely lie in wait. Therefore, finding the victim's body is an impossibility."

No dead body and no postmortem obviously means no death certificate. The government doctor's job is to ensure all the formalities are taken care of before he issues one. The result? UP forest department, which had earmarked special funds for compensation for these three district during 2003- 2004 was forced to surrender the money for lack of "conclusive evidence". Confirming this Ahsan admitted, "the department surrendered Rs 15 lakh as in more than fifty percent of cases, we could not compensate the guardians for their inability to produce the certificates".