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article imageFarmers dump bags of snakes at tax office in corruption protest

By Katerina Nikolas     Dec 1, 2011 in World
Slithering snakes caused chaos in an Indian tax office when two farmers dumped three bags of snakes in a protest against bribery demands.
Frustrated by endemic corruption and demands from local officials for bribes, two Indian farmers took matters into their own hands with an unusual form of protest. The two men descended on the tax office in Basti, northern India, and emptied three bags of snakes inside the busy office.
The bags contained 40 snakes, including deadly cobras. Their release caused pandemonium in the office as people tried to escape or climb out of the way. Uttar Pradesh state official Ramsukh Sharma described the scene: "Snakes started climbing up the tables and chairs. There was total chaos. Hundreds of people gathered outside the room, some of them with sticks in their hands, shouting that the snakes should be killed." (Arab News)
Fortunately, no one was injured or suffered snakebites, and forest workers were called to capture the creatures. The two farmers responsible for the incident were identified as Hukkul Khan and Ramkul Ram. Khan is known as a snake charmer and according to the Indian Express used to catch snakes in order to save them. Ironically it was his work with snake conservation that led to the incident.
Khan alleges that revenue staff from Basti tax office were demanding bribes in order to release tax records on land allocated for snake conservation. Indian citizens are becoming increasingly disenchanted with petty corruption that demands payments to police, doctors, politicians and officials for routine matters. According to the Guardian protests against corruption have so far resulted in the arrests of 72 officials. Meanwhile police are searching for the two farmers.
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