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Siliguri: A forest worker has died after a bullet from his colleague’s rifle hit him at Hallapara forest beat in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in north Bengal today.

The incident occurred today morning and the deceased has been identified as Marcus Ekka. He was a casual worker hired on daily wage basis by the forest department barely three months ago.

The colleague, the bullet from whose rifle has killed Ekka, has been identified as Kabi Rava. He is a forest worker on the pay role of the state forest department.

According to Rava, around 9 this morning a four-member forest department team led by him went to Hallapara forest on a routine patrol. During this an adult male elephant chased them.

“We started running for our life. It was during this that a bullet from my rifle hit Ekka in the hand and abdomen. I cannot recall how the bullet went off but I am feeling guilty,” he says.

A severely injured Ekka lay inside the forest for about an hour till a forest vehicle arrived and took him to Madarihat Primary Health Centre. Doctors there referred him to Alipuduar District Hospital but Ekka died on the way.

Kumar Bimal, the divisional forest officer of Cooch Behar forest division under which lies the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, says that a probe has been ordered to ascertain whether the Rava pressed the trigger accidentally or he was firing at the elephant when the bullet missed the target and hit Ekka.

“This is a sad incident. We are exploring the possibility of giving financial compensation to the bereaved family and employment to a family member,” Bimal says.