Notice pulled down for biting hand that feeds

A dog gets a meal outside Lady Brabourne College on Wednesday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya





























Park Circus: Lady Brabourne College has been forced to revoke a notice that had warned of a Rs 2,000 fine if any teaching/non-teaching staff member or student were "found feeding dogs on the campus".

The notice, put up on February 1, disappeared from the board after weeks of debate and protests by animal lovers who felt that the feeding ban was tantamount to cruelty towards animals.

"....feeding of dogs on the college campus is being strictly prohibited. Any teaching/non-teaching staff or student found doing the same will be required to pay a fine of Rs 2000/only," the revoked notice had said.

The reason cited for banishing strays and preventing people from feeding them was "to maintain a healthy environment on the college campus".

The most strident criticism of the move came from former Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti in a letter to principal Siuli Sarkar on February 15. "The excuse of stopping food to a friendly domesticated animal on (the) pretext of cleaning the compound is illegal," he wrote.

Chakrabarti has nine dogs in his Salt Lake home. He is known to regularly feed strays on the campus of IIEST Shibpur, where he now teaches.

Chakrabarti cited Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code to drive home the point that cruelty towards animals is an offence punishable with imprisonment and fine.

Principal Sarkar, whose signature was on the notice, declined comment on whether withdrawing the notice meant nobody would be henceforth fined for feeding dogs on the campus.

A student who did not wish to be named said the notice was pulled out the day Chakrabarti wrote to the principal. "But that does not mean the fine has been withdrawn."

Lady Brabourne remains a divided house on whether dogs should be fed on the campus.

"Previously, teachers discouraged and scolded us for feeding the dogs. But slapping a fine for doing so was something unheard of until our college came out with the notice,"a second-year student said.

Another student said that if the Jadavpur University campus could have more than 150 dogs, there was no reason why Lady Braboune couldn't "make peace with four dogs and four puppies".

A debate over cruelty towards strays had rocked JU a few years ago when a stray bit a professor.


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