Monkeys blamed for fatal fall by New Delhi deputy mayor

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2007:
NEW DELHI–New Delhi deputy mayor Sawinder Jeet Singh Bajwa
died on October 20, 2007 from head injuries reportedly suffered when
he fell from a balcony at his home while trying to avoid aggressive
rhesus macaques.
Whether that is really what happened, however, is unclear.
“Baiwa fell while reading a newspaper on the terrace at about
7:00 a.m., according to his family,” reported Times of London Delhi
correspondent Jeremy Page. “They said they thought he had been
attacked by monkeys and lost his balance while trying to chase them
away.”


Said Bajwa’s personal assistant Pawan Bhaskar, “Other-wise,
there was no reason for a man sitting in his chair to fall.”
Bajwa, 52, was also vice president of the Delhi chapter of
the Bharatija Janata Party. The most prominent Delhi BJP member may
be member of Parliament and People for Animals founder Maneka Gandhi.
“I don’t believe the monkey story at all,” Mrs. Gandhi told ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “No one saw anything. There were no witnesses. This looks
like an afterthought by people who want to get rid of the monkeys in
a temple nearby.”
Wrote Page, “Bajwa’s house is near a temple dedicated to
Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, where hundreds of monkeys gather
every day to be fed offerings by devotees. Their alleged role in his
death has reignited a debate about how to handle the Delhi population
of rhesus macaques, which experts now estimate at more than 5,500.”
“Since May this year we have managed to capture 1,250
monkeys, of whom over 450 were caught in the last 20 days,” Delhi
mayor Arti Mehra told The Hindu after Bajwa’s death. “We are also
planning to advertise in newspapers in Tamil Nadu and Assam as we’ve
had good experience with monkey-catchers from these states. There
are plans to increase the monkey-catching teams to 12 from the
existing two. The rate for capturing the animals has also been
increased.”
A June 2007 ANIMAL PEOPLE article, “Monkeys may swing
elections, but Delhi doesn’t want them,” described the controversy
over the monkeys and what to do with them, which has been
smouldering for at least five years.
Currently monkeys captured in Delhi are relocated to the
Asola Bhatti Mines near Mehrauli, in itself a controversial site.
Sand mining at Asola Bhatti was halted in June 1990 by the
then-lieutenant governor of Delhi as an occupational safety hazard,
after hundreds of workers died in accidents. The Asola Bhatti area
was incorporated into a wildlife sanctuary in 1991.
The formerly nomadic Od people, who had worked in the mines,
continued to live there until they were forcibly resettled in
mid-2006 to land from which subsistence farmers had been evicted.

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