A mass feeding initiative undertaken by Kolkata Police, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and a few other state bodies, such as the forest department, has come as a ray of hope for thousands of strays — both dogs and cats — of the city who depend on leftover food from eateries, but who had been finding it increasingly difficult to manage even the odd scrap, because of the nationwide lockdown.
With crime rate in the city at an all-time low, officers of the detective department and the anti-rowdy squad have formed teams with members of all police stations under Kolkata Police, to prepare food for and distribute it to the strays.
“We are used to catch hardened criminals and handle tough law-and-order situations. Feeding dogs is something very new to us, but this situation gives us an opportunity to serve the animals. I am loving it,” said Ashadur Rahman, the additional officer-in-charge of Kasba police station.
Cops said the idea was floated by KP commissioner Anuj Sharma himself after several animal rights organisation approached Lalbazar, seeking permission and special passes to feed strays during the lockdown. The department did issue a number of passes to each applicant, but, realising it would be a daunting task for a handful of NGO, the cops themselves took up the task.
“In this hour of crisis, Kolkata Police is standing by its citizens and helping them,” said Sharma. “But the strays are facing the brunt of the lockdown, as people are neither coming out to feed them, nor are they getting anything from garbage. We at Kolkata Police have taken the humane approach in feeding all strays from our own resources. We are also feeding horses in and around the Maidan, taking help from various NGOs and RCTC (the Royal Calcutta Turf Club). We shall continue this project till the return of normality,” he added.
As part of the initiative, multiple police officers from each police station have been making the rounds of areas under their jurisdiction, feeding stray dogs and cats cooked meals of rice and meat on clean paper plates or plates made of sal leaves.
“The food is made in a way so that it is easy to digest,”: said an officer of Netaji Nagar police station. “We cook it in our police housing kitchen and distribute it in police vehicles. Along with rice and meat, we are also feeding biscuits.”
A few days ago, former Union minister and senior BJP leader Maneka Gandhi had urged cops and resident welfare associations to be sympathetic to strays in their areas. “Street dogs, cows and birds can neither get nor give the corona virus to humans. However, in the event of a lockdown, if they are not fed, many will die, creating another kind of serious problem,” she had said.
The KMC-managed dog pound at Dhapa is also supporting the initiative and feeds over 400 dogs each day in central and north Kolkata. The team starts from the north and south gates of Victoria Memorial and moves towards Millennium Park, covering Vidhan Sabha Bhavan, the High Court, the Town Hall and Bankshall Court. The team then takes Bidhan Sarani and moves all the way to Chitpore and Burrabazar before coming back to Dhapa each evening.
“The project is supported and funded by deputy mayor Atin Ghosh, ward 63 councillor Susmita Bhattacharya and some animal lovers like Sreelekha Mitra, Debosree Roy, Tathagata Mukherjee and Debolina Dutta,” said Rajib Ghosh of the pound, who is overseeing the project.
Officers of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate and the state forest department have also taken up similar initiatives.
“We are providing the animals with chicken khichri, chapatis and biscuits at different times of the day. It has been strictly instructed that the food should not be spicy. Our officials are doping the rounds of the city and feeding animals,” said state forest minister Rajib Banerjee.
Source: Times of India