Kolkata, Jan.10 : Retired horses of the West Bengal police training centre need not worry about their future, as the State government has facilitated setting up of special stables for them at Ashaari, the shelter for animals run by People for Animals.
The government initiative has delighted animal lovers and people in the police force. It is hoped the step would keep Roshanara, Teja, Patriot and many other horses like them in good stead for long.
Earlier, the horses found no longer useful were put down (shot dead) sans any mercy. The barbaric method of brining animals' lives to an end was objected to by several people.
Fourteen horses of the West Bengal Police Training Centre (PTC) were earlier declared retired but they are now stabled at Ashaari. These horses were used for training personnel from the rank of Sub-Inspectors to that of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
Pleas and pressure of Volunteers of People for Animals prompted the West Bengal to take a compassionate view of the situation and facilitate the setting up of a stable for retired horses at Ashaari.
The State government presently funds one-third of the maintenance cost of this 'Home' for retiree horses.
"Earlier, the horses were put to rest, so to say, because there were no sanctions of grants. Once the horse becomes useless, there was no sanction for continuing for its food and all. So, they were mercilessly put to rest. This is quite inhuman practice because our entire riding section gets attached to horses, and hence, we thought it was a good idea if we would find them a safe home," said Sanjay Singh, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Police Training, West Bengal Police. "So government sanctioned some money for them. Later on, the government was moved and sanction paid some money for their upkeep," Singh added.
A horse is unable to continue in service once it goes lame or sustains injuries from which it cannot fully recover. An aged horse can also no longer be considered a workhorse, literally.
The police force has decided to retire horses, which are over 12 years of age or those that are no longer working properly. Of the 39 horses at PTC, 14 have been retired now.
A veterinarian visits Ashaari regularly to ensure that the retired horses are healthy.
"Presently, there are 14 horses which are retired and they have been shifted from West Bengal Police Training College, Bairagpur. Because all of them have some kind of permanent health problems like limbness, permanent diseases of food, and some are having rashes. Different type of permanent injuries for which they are not useful for army practices or police practices," said Dr. Annapurna Singh Chetia, Veterinarian, Ashhari shelter.
The retired horses can be seen roaming freely or galloping within a fenced area, at the Equine area at the shelter. They are fed on oats and grams. It costs around rupees 30 a day for each horse.
Apart from the Government of West Bengal, donors from France and Australia are also contributing for the upkeep of these horses.
Stable hands at Ashaari and volunteers of People for Animals opined that putting the horses to sleep can be avoided completely, if more funds are mobilised for the care of 'retired' horses.
Riding is seen as a confidence-building exercise within the uniformed services.
While the Mounted Police personnel of Calcutta Police are specifically trained to ride and use horses to control mobs at the PTC, West Bengal Police personnel are trained in just riding. By Soma Mitra