Balasore (Orissa): He is neither a murderer nor a hardcore criminal but has been kept in a custom made iron cage in an Orissa police station for the last five years. And, yes, there is some monkey business going on here.
Eight-year-old simian Ramu has been confined inside the Remuna police station in Balasore district for the last five years, ever since he attacked a boy and injured him.
The incident gained communal overtones because the boy was a Hindu and Ramu belonged to a minority family in Jagannathpur village. Tensions ran high for some days and some villagers complained to the police, forcing them to take action.
Recalled Jagmohan Mohanty, who was in charge of the police station at the time: "The villagers along with the monkey came to the police station and complained against the owner. Police summoned the owner and the matter was settled. However, the monkey again attacked other villagers and we had to keep him with us."
Ramu has been lodged in the Remuna police custody ever since.
But he doesn't seem to be complaining and is well looked after. He gets three meals a day, and the food is varied.
"He eats fruit in the mornings and evenings and has rice and curry for lunch. We spend at least Rs 20 a day from our own pockets," said police station in-charge Niranjan Kumar Dhir.
Dhir is conscious that there are laws against keeping a wild animal confined but says he is helpless.
"What can we do? Whenever we have tried to free him, he has come back and attacked people."
But wildlife experts are not convinced.
"According to law, the monkey (rhesus macaque) comes under Part-I of the Schedule-II animal category and can't be kept as a pet. Violating the prevailing act can result in three to seven years' imprisonment and fines ranging from Rs10,000 to Rs 25,000," said retired divisional forest officer Shiva Prasad Tripathy.
He said local forest officials must be informed and the monkey sent to the Nandankanan zoo near Bhubaneswar or any other.