Police end Romeo's monkey business

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The Independent Online
NEW DELHI - It was inevitable the Indian press would call the monkey Romeo, even though his intentions towards women were more menacing than amorous, writes Tim McGirk.

The animal would swing into the wards at the SMGS hospital in Jammu, a town in north-western India, biting and pinching helpless female patients. He also developed a taste for nurses. But the cowardly Romeo would never attack men.

The monkey is considered a sacred creature by many Hindus, and this Romeo was allowed to swagger around the hospital as he pleased. Even in the capital, New Delhi, at the prestigious All-India Institute for Medical Sciences, staff have suffered invasions of monkeys, scampering through wards and ripping the intravenous drips out of patients' arms.

But finally, after Romeo had injured more than 60 women and children over the past few months, the hospital staff's tolerance snapped. They went on strike.

Faced with the hospital's closure, the authorites on 11 May issued shoot-to-kill orders against the furry female chaser. But killing Romeo was not easy. Animal lovers and followers of the monkey-faced Hindu god, Hanuman, sabotaged attempts by the police to get a clear shot at Romeo. And, sensing that the mood in the hospital had swung against him from reverential to hostile, Romeo clambered off to blend in with a troop of other monkeys.

Romeo was safe until his lecherous urges got the better of him. He abandoned his fellow monkeys and slipped back into town to assault a woman on Wednesday. Witnesses immediately rang the police, who gave chase. Forty-five minutes later he was cornered on a window ledge and killed with a shotgun blast.

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