Of dogs and men

  • Dhaka Tribune  April 7th, 2020
poor beggars streets

Photo: MEHEDI HASAN

What about the ones who do not have a home to be quarantined in?

Each city has its own eco-system.

And in regular times, humans hold a commanding position, especially in Dhaka.

Because of caste and class barriers, some humans also get distanced from the others.

Specific groups of people get preferential treatment in terms of being at the top of the food chain from being at the bottom.

The wealth of the higher classes, sometimes to a very little amount, trickles down to the lower classes. This does not end poverty and perpetuates it, that is true, but that sorry economy ensures the subsistence of thousands of people living in the metropolitan.

However, during these times of Covid-19 shutdown, this food chain has been disturbed. Those who are the consumers of the surplus value have all gone in hiding in the name of home quarantine and those who subsist upon the trickle down capitalism have nowhere to turn to.

As I saw in a small walk in my neighbourhood, where I was only out to get some medications for my father, dozens of hungry humans and animals were roaming around in the hope of some food, but all were being refused.

I offered what I had to some, but I only had so much to offer.

What I have found is that these hungry people and hungry animals are growing restless and desperate with each passing day.

They may not know that food in these times of emergency is a basic right for them, which they should receive from the government, and the dogs may not know the meaning of proper, humane, and well-designed animal control, but both groups will continuously become more and more ferocious if proper steps are not taken.

Yes, I am equating hungry dogs to hungry citizens of Bangladesh because our present system has been equating them for far too long. The people on the street are just as helpless, and even more hopeless than the dogs, because even the dogs can eat what the hungry people cannot.

So the dogs break into a Rajshahi zoo and eat up the flesh of a mother deer and three fawns.

What happens when the hungry men and women try something similar? That is what we would call lawlessness, but the law, I am sorry to say, has failed to protect the prerequisites for the rule of law.

As such, it is urgent that necessary steps be taken to provide relief goods to the starving people and animals of the city who do not have a place to go but the streets. Beating them up will not be a solution because many of them live on the street and do not have any other address.

The government needs to take quick measures to ensure their livelihood if this lockdown is not just to be a cruel joke on those who are the most needy.

On the other hand, the hungry dogs at the streets must also be reined in.

They must be fed, by government or non-government endeavours, if they are not to get out of control. We have already seen what dogs can do if hunger drives them to the last resort. I am sure we do not want to see the repeat of the same, with dogs or with people.

This Covid-19 home quarantine has been hard for all, at different degrees. But it has been the hardest for those who do not even have a home to be quarantined in.

Let’s hope we can find some solutions for those dogs and people.

Anupam Debashis Roy is an editor and organizer at Muktiforum.

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