Meerut: Setting at rest the panic in the area, the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly has stated that the eight bats which had been found dead near a pond in Meerut’s Mehroli village on April 29, had died due to a “strong electric current”. Also Read - Bats Harbour up to 15,000 Coronaviruses That Can Cause Next Pandemic, Say Virus Hunters in China

The recovery of bat carcasses in the area had generated considerable panic since bats are now being linked to the spread of coronavirus. The bats were found dead on two consecutive days near a pond in Mehroli village, situated on the outskirts of Meerut city.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Meerut, Aditi Sharma, said: “Earlier, we had thought that excessive spraying of pesticides on fruit trees in the nearby orchards could have caused these deaths. We had sent the viscera to the IVRI, which has attributed the deaths to strong electric shock. Now, we are investigating if there is any electric cable passing through the area.”

Mehroli village head, Ganga Ram, however, has rejected the IVRI report.

“The nearest power line is at least half a kilometer from the site where the carcasses were found. Had they died of an electric shock, their remains would have found near the line and not so far away. How is it possible that for two consecutive days, bats were found dead and no other animal was affected? A deeper investigation is needed,” he said.

Bird watchers, however, do not rule out the possibility of killing having taken place.

“In the post-Corona situation, bats are objects of hatred and one cannot rule out the possibility of their killings,” said Rohit Khandelwal, a bird enthusiast.