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OPINION: An Untold Story of a Police Runner: “Dogs on the Streets & Crows at Home”

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“On a flat road runs the well trained runner

He is a lean and sinewy, with muscular leg:

He is thinly_ clothed-he leans forward as he runs,

With lightly closed fists, and arms partially rais’d.”

– Walt Whiteman_.                            

                                             Born in a place called Huntington, father of American free verse, Walt Whiteman, rightly depicted the appearance and job profile of a runner, who, with tiresome effort, trudge from place to place, collecting and distributing, message for good of someone, other than himself.     

This is the portrayal of a 19th-century American runner, with his benevolent, selfless attitude, still analogous to a runner working in Dibrugarh Police in the 21st Century. What the poet, witnessed in the year 1867, about an attitude of a runner (year of creation of the poem “The Runner” ) is almost remained similar in the year 2020. No big change was seen in the mindset of a runner in the gap of a period of 153 long years.

Meet Madan Chowdang, serving as a runner of Dibrugarh Police, proving the splendid nobility of runner for last 15 years.

In every single evening, Madan travels across the police stations of Dibrugarh town and its neighbouring places for delivering and collecting police messages and documents.  

Madan with his bag of foods

But Madan is slightly different from the rest of other runners since, in one hand he carries serious confidential police message and in the other, he carries a large bag, with poly bags full of deliciously cooked rice and several packets of Britannia Marie Gold Biscuits.

The reason-Madan, in his every evening ride from one police station to another, on his destined route, feeds all homeless stray dogs he comes across on the street, shelters on every nook and corner of roads and city pavements.

In a single trip, Madan feeds more than 70 street dogs every day. Sometimes number of dogs goes higher.

COVID 19 centric night curfew and heavy monsoon shower make it difficult to find the dog at night, during summer seasons, he says.

Madan, a humble police constable of Dibrugarh Police, exhausts major portion of salary in feeding street dogs. However, it became deep trouble for him to manage foodstuffs for the dogs if there is any delay in getting his salary.

However, without any fail, Madan is feeding dogs since 2004. Though the initial seven-years were difficult with very less support even from his family, his compassion and love for the animals did not take much time to change the situation.

Soon his wife Banti Chowdang Baruah, his only son Jinnay Chowdang Baruah joined hands with the mission to feed innocent emaciated starving street dogs. As a token of love and gratitude for supporting him in preparing food for the dogs, Madan pays Rs.10/- per day to his wife.

It is not that every day, Madan meets all dogs in the same place near the streets, especially during rainy days. But Madan goes one step ahead and search for them till midnight and feed them since he cannot take back the cooked rice to his home to refrigerate for the next evening.

“Sometimes it became 2.30 AM on road waiting for the dog to feed”, he said. 

In fact, in his official residence, he keeps a large heap of firewood and stocks 4 to 5 quintal of rice, ready for every month to cook rice for the street dogs. In every single day, he needs more than 6-kilogram rice to feed all the dogs.

“I never count the numbers of dogs I served in a day. Since God is making me capable to feed as much as a dog as I can, I do. I take the foodstuffs in secured poly beg and serve them on sized newspaper. But it is difficult to serve in a newspaper during raining hours. Few dogs prefer Britannia Marie Gold Biscuits, instead of rice, so I take biscuits too,” he says.

Madan feeding the stray dogs

Sometimes, some of his friends from the police fraternity also extend supports to his work. Among those few of them who came with their benevolence, are Home Guard – Rana Dev Nandi, Lakhindar Knower, Ramu Raj Kumar and especially, Rajashree Hazarika (Accounts Branch, SP office). Moreover few neighbours of Dibrugarh SP office Rani Dutta, Md. Nafiz Khan, Fadin Khan also support him for food staffs at his extreme need.

During a single evening, he travels to the places like Phool Bagan, Chowkidingee, Udaipur, Milan Nagar, Assam Medical College campus, Dibrugarh University Campus, Banipur railway station and some other neighbouring places to feed the dogs at night.

Few erstwhile senior cops of Dibrugarh Police likewise – then Dibrugarh SP Bir Bikram Gogoi, Gautom Bora, HQ DSP Pradeep Saikia, also inspired him much at his early move for feeding stray dogs across the city.

“Act of feeding dog is not an obligation rather a divine responsibility,” Madan says.

However, it’s not only street dogs that Madan Chowdang feeds. Every morning he feeds more than 72 crows (Corvus splendens) in official residence at Dibrugarh Police Reserve.  He has been continuously feeding these birds despite repeated complaints from his neighbours of crows making noise in the area since dawn.

Madan hails from a sports background family. His father Indibor Baruah is still in good form at the field, as a veteran football player and his brother Prasanta Baruah is a first-class football referee and daughter in law – Mridula Mech Baruah, too, played football in many tournaments in national level.

Dibrugarh Police has a long legacy of animal care. Even now, the present SP Dibrugarh, Sreejith T and DSP Pallavi Majumdar showing extraordinary care for the destitute animals amidst their hectic policing schedule. DSP Majumdar, personally leads the police team for several rescues of dogs and cattle mowed down by high-speed vehicles. Such precedent of higher cops now became a motivational force to all their subordinates for rescue and shelter of homeless, orphan animals.

TSI Dibrugarh Manoranjan Papu Saikia, I/c Milan Nagar OP, Deepankar Borah and many other police personals are supporting silently to address the cause of speechless, helpless impoverished animals, standing at, far from the public eye. Noted literary person, the erstwhile officer in charge of Dibrugarh PS, Naba Kumar Bora, too had rescued a rare Indian Scops owl at his personal initiative.      

The stories of such humanity by common men have always been inspiring.

Subhrajit Purakayastha feeding street dogs

Subhrajit Purakayastha, a BSc. student from Dibrugarh has been also feeding 35 to 40 street dogs regularly. Since March when the lockdown began, he has started feeding them loading the whole foodstuffs on his bicycle.

“I also invest my pocket money rather than wasting them in other purposes” , Subhrajit says. His mother cooks the food too. “Once when I was broke, Vineet Bagaria who is heading an NGO Animal Welfare People supports me personally to feed my regular stray dogs,  he added.