It’s lovely to take a break and unwind. I took one earlier this week and am the better for it, although looking after my octogenarian mother during travel kept me on my toes all the time. More later about my visit to God’s Own Country, to my hometown and the village where my mother grew up and played.
I was aghast to receive an email from Rajashree Khalap from Mumbai stating that 28 dogs (according to a report she had received) were brutally killed in a school in Chennai’s outskirts. The St John’s International School have earned a black mark and the authorities would have had a lot of answering to do if it was not for the fact that those killed were helpless stray dogs. Apparently, it was the general manager of the school who gave orders for the dogs to be killed. Why he chose that as the option instead of calling Blue Cross or some other NGO or even seeking the help of animal lovers is something that beats me as well as all those who have been sending emails back and forth on the subject.
Madhu Goyal, who I presume is based in Mumbai, in one of the emails wonders how the man could sleep at night after committing the horrific act. Others called for the filing of an FIR and the institution of criminal charges or prosecuting the general manager. I do not know whether these have been done. A Times of India report that appeared more than a week after the event mentioned about 12 dogs being killed, a substantial number nonetheless. I confirmed the incident with Dr Chinny Krishna of the Blue Cross here and he, too, was aghast and called for severe punishment.
Strangely, the general manager apologized to the Animal Welfare Board for his savage act, saying the street dogs were a threat to the schoolchildren. He said that it had happened out of his “ignorance and lack of knowledge”. My good God! Would you kill man or animal out of ignorance or lack of knowledge? In his apology email, the general manager, begging for mercy and pardon and advise and guidance, assures the Animal Welfare Board secretary that nothing of the kind would ever happen again. So, was he planning more such savagery if things had not surfaced?
Of course, street dogs are a problem. I have a nephew who is scared to return home late night after his office hours because there are street dogs on the prowl. I have heard stories from many others, including one from a senior journalist who has no sympathy for street dogs because he and others he knew were attacked. In the first place, street dogs do not survive in an area if they are not fed. So, the best option is to prevent people from feeding them. Killing is certainly not the answer. We have to learn to be more humane towards all living beings. Calls can be made to organisations or shelters like the Blue Cross if you have a problem.
In this instance, I heard later that the general manager had hired a gang to do the job. Obviously they must have been paid for it. How were the dogs killed? I have no confirmed information. In any case, since it happened on the school premises, it is all the more condemnable. It is quite possible that children studying in the school were exposed to the killings. Can you imagine the impact it could have had on innocent minds? Parents in the know would shudder to send their children to an school like this. For the simple reason that an authority in the school, no less than the general manager, is not able to understand what ‘killing’ really is. So, where is the safety for anybody really? Schools are places you would expect to find principals, heads and teachers with kind hearts. And here!
The animals have died and gone, the number is irrelevant. Some escaped. Those that did are likely to hate humankind and could turn savage when confronted. The general manager’s ‘solution’ has only aggravated the problem. And all for “lack of knowledge” and “ignorance”! It’s indeed hard to believe. With road rage and all kinds of killings and murders in cities today, the more pertinent questions is: Are we turning barbaric? Perhaps yes. And to think we are living in the 21st century!