What is the meeting point between government’s (and indeed some intellectuals’) forcing the book fair in Maidan and animal rights activists’ insisting that no harm must come to stray dogs on the street? The answer is that some people want to ride roughshod over the wishes and convenience of a silent majority.
Take book fair for example. All fairs have been stopped in Maidan because during the fair and later the remnants create pollution. But, the CM and the intellectuals believe book fair belongs to the sacred realm of Bengali culture, so it must not be removed from Maidan.
Going by that logic, since crafts’ fair, Vidyasagar Mela, religious congregation, etc. are all part of our or others’ culture, therefore these must also be allowed in Maidan. But all these fairs have shifted elsewhere. Why then must book fair be allowed there? It’s here that a smell of ulterior motives emerges.
I haven’t mentioned the industrial fair organized by BNCCI that too has shifted to Salt Lake Stadium this year. Since when does ‘pure commerce’ is considered a part of Bengali’s ‘culture’, although Kolkata’s book fair is nothing but commerce as well (as distinct from say, Frankfurt Book Fair)?
Unfortunately for culture-minded intellectuals of Kolkata, they are up against 2 powerful entities, both of which are devoid of any ‘color’ attached to them. One is science, the other law of land. Let’s take the case of ‘science’ first.
That the fairs produce environmental pollution and are detrimental to the health of Maidan, the city’s lungs, has been proved beyond any iota of doubt. Since pollution causes sufferings for the people at large (as can be verified by any medical practitioner), no congregation that results in it must be allowed in Maidan. Going against this is virtually an attempt to negate the force of ‘science’.
The law of land, on the other hand, is equally emphatic. Why must there be an exception for one fair when all other fairs have been denied the right to take place in Maidan?
Coming to animal activists’ case, the story [First arrest in city for killing dog] that one Professor Subrata Guha was arrested on Jan 25 since he used an air pistol to kill a stray dog inside the campus of a north Kolkata polytechnic evokes mixed feeling.
While cruelty to animals cannot be supported, it’s also true that people have the right to defend their lives from danger. The activists who loose no time to pounce on such misdemeanors on the part of perfectly law-abiding citizens have no clue as to how the menace of stray dogs can be tackled.
Even if they have, nothing is apparent on ground. Stray dogs mate and produce any number of offspring every breeding season, and it’s highly dangerous to walk on the road at night, inviting unprovoked wrath from the hordes of them at every locality in the city.
It’s easy to pronounce from the safe confines of home that stray dogs are like ‘chowkidars’ at night who prevent thefts and unlawful intrusions, but it’s more than hellish to encounter them on road. And in case you suffer a dog-bite, more agony awaits you. Which is that there is very scarce supply of anti-rabies vaccines in the few locations in the city (including state-owned Pasteur Laboratories) where they’re supposed to be available.
Perhaps the activists all have their cars to travel at night so that they don’t have to come across stray dogs on the road. If not this, then they are perhaps dismissive about human lives, in which case it is alarming for the general public.