By: Chandrashekar Bhat
HUNDREDS of animals have died in Dhaka’s biggest pet market after stores were forced to close during Bangladesh’s coronavirus lockdown, leaving owners desperate and rights activists angry.
“We need to keep the doors open so the animals don’t suffocate,” shop owner Mohammad Polash said.
About 400 birds and dozens of dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs have died since the market shut on July 1, according to Rahman Shikder, a spokesman for the Katabon market’s store owners’ association.
“At least 20 per cent of our animals have died,” he added.
After the deaths made national headlines, the government on Wednesday (14) ordered police to let the pet market’s 75 tiny shops open their doors for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.
Animal rights activists have accused the shops of keeping pets in hazardous conditions.
“Places like Katabon should not exist in the first place,” the head of animal rights group Obhoyaronno, Rubaiya Ahmad, said.
“The animals there were already kept in extremely inhumane conditions and it’s no surprise they met such horrible deaths,” she added.
Police patrolling Katabon on Wednesday (14) gave shopkeepers a warning for opening outside of the permitted hours.
“Police would fine us if we open our shutters,” owner Bappi Khan said.
Bangladesh has allowed some lockdown measures to be lifted since Thursday (15) for Eid al-Adha, the country’s second-biggest religious festival.