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Stray Dogs Slaughtered By Humans In Kolkata. Who Is The Savage Now?

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By Debarati Ghosh:

Despite the facelift that the city has received of late, an ugly blot exposes the dark side of Kolkata, which no amount of façade can conceal. In the ‘posh’ residency complex of Diamond City West (DCW) in South Kolkata, the upper middle class residents have been lynching and slaughtering street dogs. An air of protests blew into the residency complex, after news of sixteen strays dogs being brutally killed made it to social media. Two residents, namely, Gopa Ganguly Karmakar and Monisha Bhowmick had 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.

stray dog in sack
Image posted by Pooches N More on Facebook.

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, awaiting 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.”

What is even more baffling is the reaction of the ‘human’ residents of the complex, which was anything but humane. The arrival of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and animal rights activist, actress Debashree Roy to campaign against the killings, had been termed as that of ‘illegal immigrants’. According to Susmita Chattopadhyay, Ahana Dasgupta, and Kuheli Goswami of the KSD, their members were ‘manhandled’, ‘molested’, ‘physically assaulted’ and ‘abused’, their mobile cameras broken and SIM cards were taken away by the residents of DCW. Susmita adds, “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.”

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 civilised 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 residency 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, where the Chinese are being prevented from consuming their food. Too much hypocrisy, I say.

Humans are said to have evolved from animals. However when animals are more loving, caring and expressive even in their ‘stray-dom’ and man behaves like a savage in the ‘kingdom’, the evolution should really be questioned.

With the local newspapers taking up sides and presenting news of either version, the real problem lies in our idea of development and our entitlements. This city which boasts of 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 Rs. 10 to Rs. 50. One would presume it is more like a welcome invitation than a deterrent. I guess that already delineates our take on the importance of this issue.

Featured Image Source: Getty

Also read: Beaten Brutally Till His Leg Was Broken, Sadly, This Horse Is Unlikely To Get Justice

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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