A leopard that had killed an 8-year-old girl in a village in Surat district in the western Indian state of Gujarat, was allegedly burnt alive by the angry villagers after it was captured by forest officials.

The Gujarat Forest Department has set up an inquiry panel to probe the gruesome incident that occurred on November 3 (Thursday) at Vadi village in Umarpada tehsil.

The leopard was captured in a trap set by the forest officials late on Wednesday night. The villagers set the animal on fire inside the cage the next day.

'Investigation has revealed that some villagers who were angry over the death of a girl killed by the leopard threatened forest officials who were guarding the cage, asking them to leave. Then they set the leopard ablaze,' said deputy conservator of forest J H Rathod.

Gujarat Forest and Tribal Development Minister Ganpat Vasava hails from the same village, Vadi, which falls in his Mangrol assembly constituency.

The leopard attacked Nikita Vasava (8) on Wednesday morning when she stepped out to attend nature's call and dragged her away into forest. Her body was found some 500 metres from the village outskirts later.

Minister Vasava visited the village after the incident and announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh for her family. The forest department placed five traps around the village to capture the animal.

'We have registered a case under section 9 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (with regard to leopard's death). To investigate the matter further, an inquiry panel with some top forest officials has been formed. The panel has been asked to submit its report in 15 days. Further action will be taken as per the findings of the report,' said Rathod.
 

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