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AP Photo/PA Images A man fends the snakes off with a tablecloth during the snake protest in Basti.
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Snakes unleashed in Indian tax office in anti-bribery protest
Two farmers who claim they were denied access to their tax records by officials who wanted bribes released dozens of snakes in the tax office yesterday.

TWO FARMERS fed up with alleged bribery demands emptied three bags filled with slithering snakes in a busy tax office in northern India, an official said today.

The 40 or so snakes of different sizes and species — including at least four deadly cobras — sent clerks and villagers climbing atop tables and scurrying out the door to escape the office in Basti, about 300km south-east of Lucknow, said Uttar Pradesh state official Ramsukh Sharma.

“Snakes started climbing up the tables and chairs,” he said. “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.”

No one was bitten or injured in the incident yesterday afternoon, and police and forest officials captured the snakes.

The farmers had been asking for tax records for their land in nearby Narharpur village, but tax officials withheld the files for weeks while allegedly demanding bribes.

Sharma said their method of protest was unacceptable. Police are searching for the farmers, who were identified as Hukkul Khan and Ramkul Ram. Khan is known locally as a snake charmer.

(Image: AP/Press Association Images)

Associated Foreign Press
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