Surendra Kumar, a 45-year-old farmer, did not raise many eyebrows when he announced a reward on the head of one who is trying to kill his son.

However, it later emerged that the announcement was for the head of a snake that has bitten his son four times in the past two years. Surendra Kumar claims that the same snake has bitten his son Brijbhan four times in the past two years.

His son had apparently killed the snake’s mate in October 2015 and the snake was “trying to seek revenge”. Surendra Kumar has even posted two armed men at his house in Khiriya village to guard his son, Brijbhan, round-the-clock.

Many snake charmers, lured by the prize money, have been thronging the farmer’s house in the hope of catching the snake and winning the prize money.

“Brijbhan, 21, had killed one of the snakes while they were mating in October 2015. A year later, he was bitten by the snake for the first time and thereafter, he has been bitten thrice again in May, July and then the first week of August this year. It is the same reptile which keeps striking at my son and the villagers say that the snake is taking revenge,” Surendra Kumar told reporters.

He said that his son survived the snakebites mainly because the snake was non-venomous.

“But we cannot live in fear all the time. I take my son to a local snake charmer whenever he is bitten. The snake charmer has failed to capture the snake, which appears and then disappears suddenly,” the worried father said. The family has consulted local pundits and has planted herbs all around the house to keep the snake away, but the remedy is obviously not working. Meanwhile, Brijendra Yadav, veterinarian at the Lucknow Zoo, said that “Cases of snakebite rise rapidly during monsoon when the reptiles venture out of their burrows. Repeated snakebites, in this case, are a coincidence and the snake is harmless because it apparently belongs to a non-poisonous variety.”

Wildlife expert and retired sub-divisional forest official N.K. Upadhyaya said, “One of the easy ways to differentiate between a poisonous and non-poisonous variety is to observe the tail. The poisonous ones have pointed tails. In India, there are several varieties of snakes, but most are non-venomous. Often people exaggerate their experiences and believe they have been bitten by a venomous snake. A snake taking revenge is completely illogical.”

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