About 500 birds were poisoned near the Panchavati Hanuman Temple in Parbatnagar in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district, 240 km west of Jaipur by five local villagers who planned to sell the carcasses for meat.
The police have arrested one of the culprits, Chhotu Ram Vangaria, while he was carrying away some carcasses in gunny bags.
They are on the lookout for four of his accomplices who got away, said Circle Officer (Makrana) Rakesh Puri.
Shankar Lal Saini, who was going to the temple to offer prayers, had tipped off the police. “I saw some persons carrying birds in gunny gags and reported the matter to the police,” he said.
It is the practice at the Panchavati Hanuman Temple, as it is at several other holy places, for devotees to offer feed to the many birds that flock there. Vangaria and his accomplices poisoned this feed.
Their plan: sell the dead birds in the local market and make a killing. About 450 of these were pigeons and 50 were sparrows.
By acting promptly on Saini’s complaint the police may have averted a bigger tragedy. A calamity of unimaginable proportions could have resulted if the meat from the poisoned birds had found its way to the market.
Babu Lal Jaju, state-in-charge, People for Animals, Rajasthan, an animal rights body has written to state governor S.K. Singh and chief minister Ashok Gehlot, demanding a probe into the incident.
“It is one of the most tragic incidents in recent times and should be condemned by one and all,” he wrote.