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Siliguri: A wild leopard pounced upon a little girl as she was playing with a group of playmates and killed her with a fatal bite on the neck.

The mishap took place this afternoon at Dumchipara tea garden Madarihat in Alipurduar district in north Bengal.

The deceased girl, aged around five years, was playing with a group of 6-7 children of her age at Dumchipara tea plantation’s Line No 12. The children were engrossed in playing that around 3 pm an adult leopard suddenly jumped on the spot from the other side of the tea garden drain.

Even before the children could realise, the leopard bit on the neck of the little girl and started dragging her away. Seeing this, the other children cried out for help and this made people from nearby areas to rush in.

With a SIZABLE crowd of people chasing it, the leopard dropped the girl at a distance of about 350 metres from where the children were playing. People rescued her and took to Madarihat Rural Hospital, where doctors declared her dead on arrival.

The leopard had severed the little girl’s windpipe with its fatal bite and the resultant bleeding claimed her life, doctors have said.

The incident has triggered a panic among the workers of Dumchipara tea garden as they and their family members often need to pass by plantations that are close to the forest. With the day hours getting shortened due to winter, workers also return from the plantations only around dusk.

In July this year, half-eaten dead body of a woman was found at Malbazar’s Betguri tea garden. It was suspected that a leopard killed her while she was returning home alone from work.