By Anjan Roy
The death of a horse, ironically named Voice of Reason, has erupted into widespread bemoaning what we humans are doing to the environment and our insensitivity to nature and other sentient beings.
A horse belonging to the Calcutta Mounted Police died of fright from loud noise as well as display of sharp lights from fireworks after the end of India’s victory over South Africa at the Eden Gardens last Sunday. Despite bans on use of certain types of fireworks, these were used to celebrate what has been claimed to be a cricketer’s birthday as well as the resounding win.
The Mounted Police horse was on duty, as usual. As the fireworks abruptly started bursting and lights streaking across the night sky, the horse was uneasy and when newer volleys of crackers and firecrackers burst overhead, the horse could no longer take it.
The horse’s handle was standing besides it and did everything to calm down the scared animal. But it began running towards a large car park and dashed against cars. It had fallen on the ground and then leapt up again.
In the process it got hurt. The mounted policeman and handler of the horse was also hurt and could not keep pace with the horse, naturally, which had by then gone berserk. It crashed further into a two-wheeler parking station when some traffic police got it under control and tethered it to a post.
It was later brought to its stable by the mounted police officials, not very far from the Maidan. However, on reaching the stable it was still uncomfortable and shortly thereafter it had a heart attack and fell dead. It should be an eye-opener — horses and for that matter all animals are thought to be dumb and have no sensitivity or awareness. Alas! They have rather heightened ones.
With that insensitivity to nature we humans are destroying it. Voice of Reason is now setting us thinking about it.
Admittedly, the deceased horse was no “Chetak”, Rana Pratap’s legendary mount. The horses of yore would have been real brave ones, equal to the strenuous tasks before them. They were upto the furious fights of the kings and emperors, facing the canon fires and cuts and thrusts of a battlefield.
These mounted policemen are deployed on important occasions as a routine to control crowd and maintain order in the vicinity of the Eden Gardens stadium. These are also deployed when important football matches are played on the club grounds in the Calcutta Maidan.
Even otherwise, the mounted policemen are a regular feature, deployed to patrol the large Maidan grounds every evening to keep watch over what was happening. This is the usual practice ever since the Calcutta Mounted Police was raised over a century and a half ago.
Those days there were no cars and speedy vehicles. The law enforcers had to depend on the speed of the horses to police the massive Maidan grounds. Initially, the Calcutta Mounted Police had a much larger complement of horses on duty. With mechanised transportation available, the importance of the mounted police went down, though the tradition of mounted policemen patrolling the maidan in the evening still persists.
Mounted police is now saying that more experienced horses would now be placed for the remaining cricket matches of the World Cup. They would probably be the war horses of the mounted corps, sufficiently familiar with the weird and insensitive manner humans behave.
The death of the horse has driven at least some realisation of the way multifarious pollution was rising. Not the least of these is the sound pollution. People are convinced that with rising affluence in the country, the sense of responsibility towards others has dwindled.
But despite the sad incidence, the Calcutta Mounted Police was a sight as they proceeded in a formation across the Chowringhee in the afternoon on tie way to their duty on the Maidan. They would bring traffic to a standstill for a short while as they went from their stables towards the open Maidan. (IPA Service)