DELHI: It was a horrific sequence of events that left visitors to Delhi zoo stunned. One among them, 20-year-old Maqsood, scaled a low iron railing and a moat wall with an incline to fall right into the tiger enclosure. Within 10 minutes – before the guards could summon any help – the tiger grabbed him by the neck and dragged him away. He probably died within a few minutes. His lifeless form was then dragged around for some time before the tiger lost interest.
The tragedy, which shook people around the country as the news broke, left a trail of questions. The youth was a dropout and suffered from some mental ailment. A guard had reportedly warned this factory worker from Anand Parbat twice when he crossed the railing and was leaning over the wall. He tumbled over at 1pm, plunging about 15 feet. But could the gory incident have been avoided? Did the zoo staff do enough to deter or prevent him from rushing to his death? Wasn’t the 10-minute window long enough for the zoo to mount a rescue operation? Why weren’t the guards carrying a tranquillizer gun?
Maqsood cowered in fear and appeared to be pleading with folded hands as death stared him in the face. The tiger, Vijay (8), looked at him with curiosity for about five minutes from a sniffing distance, according to eyewitnesses. The 50-odd visitors in front of the enclosure created a din by clapping and shouting, some of them trying to scare away the animal by throwing sticks and stones. Far from being deterred, the tiger first pawed Maqsood a few times and then lunged at him, caught him by the neck and dragged him to the other end of the enclosure.