Lifestyle & Belief

India: Angry snake charmer releases cobras in tax office


Several poisonous cobras were said to be among the snakes set loose in the land revenue office in Harraiya town on November 29, 2011.


Asit Kumar

We've all been there: you're in your local tax office, the line is insane, the clerks are no help, the paperwork's taking forever... so you bring out your bag of poisonous cobras.

Or at least perhaps that's what you would do if you too had the power to charm snakes—like Indian farmer Hukkul Khan, who the Hindustan Times reported to have unleashed more than a dozen of the reptiles on unsuspecting tax clerks in Uttar Pradesh state on Tuesday.

He was apparently frustrated with administrative delays and demands for bribes.

Outlook India described the scene:

The hapless staff at the office of the revenue inspector in Haraiyan [town] in Basti district climbed atop tables for cover while some scurried out to the exit door to make good their escape from the slithering reptiles. [...]

TV footages showed there were three to four cobras with raised hood among the snakes. Some snakes even started climbing up the tables and chairs.

It is not known how many snakes were set loose. The Hindustan Times said 20, while a local official told the Associated Press there were as many as 40.

Despite hours of chaos, no one was reported bitten and all snakes were captured by police and forest department officials, said the AP.

Khan is usually called in whenever a snake is spotted, local journalist Mazhar Azad told the BBC. He is understood to be seeking a plot of land on which to keep his snakes, but has complained that local officials are holding up his request and have pressured him to pay bribes.

His dangerous protest seems to have paid off: local magistrate Ranvijay Singh said Khan would get his land soon, the Hindustan Times reported, while officials do not plan to press charges.