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Siliguri: The mutilated dead body of a woman with its lower portion missing has been found at a tea garden at Malbazar in Jalpaiguri district. It is suspected that either a tiger or a leopard mauled the woman and ate her flesh.

The chilling incident has taken place at Malbazar’s Betguri tea garden. The deceased, Sukurmoni Oraon (51), was a retired tea worker at the garden and used to live in her hutment at a labour line in the tea garden itself.

Her neighbours have said that Oraon yesterday went to work on an upcoming tea garden at nearby Teshimala area on a daily wage basis. She did not return home in the night.

Today morning, workers who went to pluck tea at Betguri tea garden’s section no 22 were shocked to find her dead body lying amid tea bushes. The body had been eaten almost up to the abdomen and the remaining portion bore the marks of mauling. There were pugmarks resembling that of a leopard on the ground nearby.

Frightened by the discovery, the workers ran away from the area refusing to work and alerted the garden management. The management, in turn, informed Malbazar Wildlife Squad.

Foresters came and sent the dead body for post-mortem to the Jalpaiguri District Hospital. On the basis of prima-facie evidence, which suggests that the woman has actually been killed by some wild beast, the foresters handed out Rs 20,000 as immediate compensation to the bereaved family.

Forest ranger Sameer Sikdar, who is in-charge of the area, says that leopard killing an adult human being is rare.

“We are waiting for the post-mortem report to ascertain exactly which animal killed and mauled the woman. Once this is ascertained, the family will get more monetary compensation, while we will be able to devise a strategy to deter incidents like this in the future,” he says.