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Maneka letter lifeline for birds

Gaya, Jan. 17: Senior BJP leader Maneka Gandhi’s letter to the police to clamp down on sale of birds in the district and book the culprits has prompted a decline in the practice.

The letter, written on January 5 to Bodhgaya police station house officer (SHO) T.N. Tiwari, assumes significance, as devotees usually buy the birds and then release them at this time of the year Some of the birds involved are robin, parrot, maina, eagle and pigeon.

SHO Tiwari said: “The bird sellers try to hoodwink us by staying in isolated places and covering the cages with cloth. The sale of birds has gone down owing to proper checks.”

Maneka is scheduled to arrive in Bodhgaya on January 24 to take part in a campaign organised by the Kagyu Monlam Organising Committee to stop sale of caged birds. She would be the chief guest and Ogyen Trinley Dorje would lead the campaign from January 22 to February 2.

Maneka, in her letter said it was illegal to capture and sell or buy Indian birds under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Sources said a gang in Bodhgaya traps birds and sells them to tourists. During the process of trapping and transportation, many birds die. Some of the remaining are killed by kites or crows.

The monk in-charge of Chakma monastery and an active member of International Buddhist Council, Bhikkhu Priyapala, said: “There is no example in Buddhist texts that Lord Buddha released a caged bird. Devotees release birds as there is a common belief that if any near and dear relative in the family is dead, releasing the bird in their name brings peace to the soul.”