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Savagery In The Name Of Civilization: The Slaughter Of Stray Dogs By Kolkata Residents

16/06/2016 8:27 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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CALCUTTA, WEST BENGAL, INDIA - 2013/12/30: Dogs sleeping on the ground around Kalighat temple. (Photo by Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/LightRocket via Getty Images)

stray dog in sack

Image posted by Pooches N More on Facebook.

By Debarati Ghosh

Despite the facelift that the city has received of late, no amount of facades can hide this particular dark side of Kolkata. In the "posh" residential complex of Diamond City West (DCW) in South Kolkata, the upper middle-class residents have been lynching and slaughtering street dogs -- at least 16 of them. Two residents, Gopa Ganguly Karmakar and Monisha Bhowmick, finally reached out to an animal lovers' group after having been verbally abused and physically assaulted by their neighbours. Their crime: intervening and protesting when another stray was tied up in a sack and beaten to death, with seven more queued up to meet a similar fate.

Some visibly disturbed young activists from the Kolkata Street Dogs (KSD) group sat outside the Sarsuna Police Station on the evening of 31 May 2016, waiting for their plight to be heard. A case had been filed against them with the local police for intervening in the brutal killings of strays by the members of the residency complex claiming, "The group had illegally encroached in our complex, entered our homes and beaten us up, cut our residents' hands and legs."

When animals are more loving, caring and expressive than people, then we really need to question our "evolved" status.

What is even more baffling is the reaction of the "human" residents of the complex - it was anything but humane. The arrival of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, actress and animal rights activist Debashree Roy to campaign against the killings, was termed as an intervention by "illegal immigrants". According to Susmita Chattopadhyay, Ahana Dasgupta and Kuheli Goswami of the KSD, their associates were "manhandled", "molested", "physically assaulted" and "abused". Their mobile cameras were broken and SIM cards were taken away by the residents of DCW. "Our attempts to vaccinate the strays have been foiled by the residents. The two female whistleblowers were not allowed to enter their own homes. They have been provided police protection," says Susmita.

Although a case has been lodged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, the members of the NGO, too, face imminent criminal charges for trespassing, harassing the civilized residents who were, perhaps, just keeping their complex free of street dogs and beggars, all for the sake of "development" and "aesthetic beauty". The residents have flatly denied all reports of animal cruelty (making us question our own eyes when we see the available images and videos) and have righteously resorted to demonstrations on the streets by blocking the Biren Roy West Road to protect their right to perhaps live in a place where only imported breeds are allowed. It is interesting to note that some had even compared the dogs to chicken and fish, thereby justifying their slaughter. This statement comes at a time when our nation is uniting to protest against the Yulin Dog Festival. Too much hypocrisy, I say.

The penalty for animal abuse ranges from a whopping ₹10 to ₹50. It is more like an invitation than a deterrent.

When animals are more loving, caring and expressive than people, then we really need to question our "evolved" status.

The real problem lies in our idea of development and our entitlements. This city, which boasts that it is ushering in an era of development, has a lush history of poisoning cats, burning dogs and beating dog feeders to death. The penalty for animal abuse ranges from a whopping ₹10 to ₹50. It is more like an invitation than a deterrent. It also summarizes our stance on the importance of this issue.

Featured image source: Getty

This article was originally published here on Youth Ki Awaaz.

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