Aged widow’s dogged determination to save pet

July 19th, 2008 - 9:56 am ICT by IANS  

By Imran Khan
Patna, July 19 (IANS) She is in her 70s, but age has not deterred Janaki Devi, a widow living in a Bihar town, from taking up cudgels for her pet dog Chhotu - just like she did five years ago. Chhotu is like any other pet dog, fiercely loyal to its elderly mistress who lives in Purnea district’s Bhatta Bazar area, about 300 km from here. In fact it is her only companion.

But some of Janaki Devi’s neighbours allege that eight-year-old Chhotu is a mad dog that has attacked and bitten several people. A case was lodged against it in a local court last week by one such neighbour, Jagdish Das.

“My dog is everything for me. Chhotu is like my father, mother, brother and friend. It takes care of and protects me. I will not allow people to separate me from Chhotu,” said Janaki, a frail looking woman wearing a dirty sari.

Janaki Devi has warded off trouble over Chhotu before. Then too, her neighbours had moved court saying the dog was dangerous.

Nearly five years ago when the dog was sentenced to death by a local court she single-handedly fought a legal battle and mobilised the support of animal rights activists, including former central minister Maneka Gandhi. The order was finally stayed, saving her pet’s life.

Now once again Janaki Devi, who shares most of her time with Chhotu in a thatched house, has made up her mind to take on people who are against her pet.

“It is a conspiracy by my neighbour to take over my small landed property by targeting my protector, Chhotu,” she said.

She said she owns some land, including the plot on which her house stands, and this is what her neighbours are hoping to encroach upon, as she is a helpless widow.

Janaki Devi recalled that in 2003 when her pet dog was sentenced to death, “I simply begged for clemency saying that being a widow, it was my only companion and protector.

“If the dog had been killed, I would have been left with no one to protect me from miscreants who were bent upon grabbing my property,” she said.

Dilip Kumar, a lawyer who is helping Janaki Devi, said several cases had been lodged against Chhotu by her neighbours in the last few years.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at Imran.k@ians.in)

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