HOWRAH, 27 June-2014, Rupak Banerjee/TNN: Yet another dog lover was beaten to death in a Howrah locality on Wednesday night, allegedly by a neighbour who couldn’t stand his passion for strays.
The victim, 50-year-old Baneswar Shau, was an employee of Howrah Jute Mill. The accused, Sambhu Bag, tried to escape but was arrested on Thursday morning and charged with murder. Animal rights activists have demanded exemplary punishment for Bag.
Wednesday’s killing is the second such in Howrah in just five weeks. On May 19, Howrah Municipal Corporation employee Nawraj Singh was beaten to death by a neighbour after he rescued and brought home a pigeon.
Shau lived with wife Rina and daughter Kankana in a South Baksara locality near the Botanic Garden. He would keep a portion of his salary aside and created a fund to take care of stray dogs. He not only fed strays in the neighbourhood but also took them to the vet regularly. Most neighbours found this queer and ridiculed him, say his friends and relatives.
Around 11pm on Wednesday, Shau finished dinner, made a meal for the strays and took it out for them as usual. He was feeding the dogs when Bag, who was on his way home, saw this and accosted him, say police.
“Why do you feed these dogs? They bark at me when I return at night and also create nuisance in the neighbourhood ,” Bag told Shau, according to locals. Shau replied that somebody had to take care of them. “How else will they survive,” he said.
Bag shot back that the stray population in the locality was growing because of Shau to which the animal lover replied that he “can’t help liking dogs” .
According to Rina, Bag fell upon her husband and started beating him. The strays tried to rescue Shau and charged at Bag. He tried to flee but lost his footing and fell. He got up and screamed at Shau, accusing him of intentionally setting the dogs upon him.
“Bag was screaming at the top of his voice and threatening my husband . Though people were awake, all of them were so engrossed in the World Cup match that they didn’t bother to check what the ruckus was about. Had people come out, my husband would have been alive today. After being chased by the dogs, Bag returned with an iron rod. We watched from the window as he shooed away the animals and started dragging my husband towards his house. When Kankana and I rushed out, he was raining blows on my husband’s head with the rod. Kankana tried to stop him, but Bag shoved her and threatened to attack us, too. The dogs came to our rescue again and started snarling at Bag. He lost his nerve and fled. By then, my husband had lost consciousness and was lying on the ground bleeding profusely,” Rina said.
On hearing the two women screaming, locals finally emerged from their homes and took Shau to South Howrah General Hospital. He was shifted to Howrah District Hospital where he died. Bag was arrested on Thursday from his in-laws’ house.
After his arrest, Bag told police that he was standing at a neighbour’s window watching the Argentina vs Nigeria match when the dogs started barking. He got disturbed and asked Shau to stop feeding the animals.
“This is inhuman. There are some people who feel that the world belongs to them only and treat animal lovers this way. The guilty deserves exemplary punishment for this cruel behaviour ,” said Asit Kumar Roy, an animal rights activist from the Andul Bakultala area.