Sunday, February 04, 2007

 

Monkey menace becomes election issue in India

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: The menace of monkeys in India has intensified to such an extent that political parties contesting state assembly elections are making promises to rid people of them.

The Congress party in its manifesto for the Uttrakhand state assembly elections, cleared by the central panel led by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday, promises to save people from simian terror if re-elected.

It promises to raise a “langur sena” (monkey army) that will chase away the marauding monkeys. Even pigs find place in the manifesto, which promises that the government would fence farmlands to protect crops from wild pigs that have unleashed a proverbial reign of terror in the hill state.

Mukherjee quickly agreed to the state leaders’ demand to make the anti-monkey promise since he has himself been a victim of the nuisance. He also knows how the deployment of langurs, a species which other monkeys dread, has helped deal with the menace in and around the Central Secretariat and the ministers’ bungalows.

The local municipal is besieged with a High Court order to banish monkeys from the human habitats of the capital. It caught a good number of them and dispatched them to the forests in Madhya Pradesh but the government in Bhopal is now refusing to entertain more monkeys from Delhi.

The latest victim of the monkey menace in the capital this week were the Kadkadduma district courts in east Delhi where a 3-legged simian got into the court of additional sessions judge R K Yadav, jumped to the podium of the judge and began tearing off pages from law books.

A Hindi daily on Saturday described how the judge ran to a corner and wanted to know from the police prosecutor if the monkey had a case listed in his court. The prosecutor answered in the negative, but another lawyer said Delhi’s monkeys were angry with the courts over the High Court order to banish them from the capital and that the particular monkey appeared to be angry because he could not find the court where he could appeal on behalf of his community.

Ultimately driven out of the courtroom by police, the monkey entered the record room of another court forcing the employees to run away. Police drove out the animal again, only to find him land in the court canteen.

The monkey got VIP treatment from canteen staff, who entertained him with bread pakodas and laddoos, and that was how the pleased marauder made a quiet exit.

The judges later sent a strong letter to the municipal corporation, demanding immediate action to rid the courts of monkeys.