In what can only be classified as a freak event, a mother was left grieving for her baby after a monkey snatched it from inside the child's home. Police said that infant had been sleeping under a mosquito net inside the home when the monkey entered the residence and then inexplicably made its escape with the baby.
The event, which took place in the village of Talabasta in the Indian state of Odisha, had police frantically searching for the primate in a desperate race against time. But that race was ultimately lost, with various news outlets from the country reporting that the 16-day-old day baby was later found dead, drowned inside a well.
The baby was found on Sunday morning by the child's aunt, who spotted it in a neighboring well believed to be at least 50 feet deep. It was pulled out with the help of a bucket and confirmed dead. Neighbors said that the well was usually covered and that when they checked the well on Saturday, they found nothing.
Talking to AFP, police sub-inspector S.M Baral described the unfortunate kidnapping: "The mother is saying that she saw a monkey take away her child. She raised an alarm but the monkey quickly leaped over the roof and vanished out of sight," adding: "We launched a search along with the forest officers. Yesterday (April 1) the baby was spotted inside the well, dead."
A postmortem of the baby at the nearby Banki Hospital revealed that the infant did not sustain any serious injury marks, leading doctors to believe that it died from asphyxiation due to drowning. Baral confirmed as much, saying: "Since there were no injury marks on the baby, maybe the monkey dropped him into the well."
The local media reported that the family of the child will not be punished for negligence because there wasn't enough proof for the same. Baral said that a case would not be registered because "the family is convinced it's the monkey that killed their child".
Police Commissioner Pradhan said: "We have registered a case of unnatural death and are getting an autopsy done. There are bruises on the child's left hand," adding: "The baby might have slipped from the clutches of the monkey, and died after falling into the well."
Monkeys have allegedly become a nuisance in the area where the child was kidnapped, with this particular one said to be a rhesus macaque, a species with a reddish-pink face that is common across India. While they often damage property, this incident has been called "very, very rare" by the authorities.
Speaking to the BBC, PC Pradhan said: "We hope to catch this monkey within a week. While monkeys attacking humans or entering houses in search of food are fairly common, this is the first case in which one has run away with a baby."
As reported by the Straits Times, schools in another one of Odisha's districts were closed in March 2017 because of frequent monkey attacks, and in the same month, a government employee died from head injuries sustained after a monkey leaped at him from a tree.
Angry villagers and family members staged protests outside the forestry department demanding that they take more stringent measures to control the monkey menace in the area. The police are currently to be working in hand with a local tribe that specializes in catching monkeys to apprehend this rogue primate.
PC Pradhan acknowledged the problem, claiming that there were '20-25 monkeys sitting on the roof of my office,' and added: "They snatch eatables from passers-by or troop into homes, open fridges and steal food items."