Mangaluru: There may be nothing to crow about the ordinary crow which you see on your window sill but when a crow endears itself to a kid’s heart and is suddenly plucked away by insensitive forest officials, it’s really hurts. It all started about three months ago near Kaup in Udupi district when three baby crows fell from a tree in Prashanth Poojary's house. The bird lover tried his best to heal them but two died while the third survived but was unable to fly properly.
Prashanth named the crow 'Raja' and it became so friendly that they were able to converse in a language of their own about what mattered— food and water. The devotee of Lord Shani was overjoyed that the crow, considered the 'Vahana,' of Lord Shani, had become his friend. The bird enjoyed full freedom in his house and was inseparable from Prashanth’s nine year old son, Praneeth, a class three student. Then the unthin kable happened. The ‘uncles’ arrived from the forest department and Raja was snatched away and released in a distant forest. Prasha nth spent his entire Sun day searching for Raja but the bird failed to return home.
Did the forest staff assume that Prashanth was exploiting Raja to make a fast buck with crows now hardly visible but still needed for sacred rituals like 'Pind Dan Vidhi' (rituals after an individual's death)? The belief is that if a crow consumes food provided during the rituals, the dead will rest satisfied. Prashanth wanted to help out such people in need by utilising the services of Raja and even told those around that if they needed a crow during rituals, he would bring the bird to their place. “This was a service I intended to provide absolutely free and posted it on Facebook,” he said. But then something he had never expected happened.
“Some people from Venur used my photo with the crow, recorded an audio clip and spread a message that the crow was available. They mentioned a fee (around `2,000) and after the message went viral, people started criticising me for a mistake I had not committed,” he said. Soon arrived forest officials and Raja – who cannot fly – was taken away into the woods near Belman. “The bird was unable to fly properly and yet forest officials released it in a thick forest where it would be at the mercy of animals. When I went to their office, they told me that this was the modus operandi for releasing animals or birds. So what about the safety of the bird? This is very sad,” Prashanth told Deccan Chronicle wondering how he would console his shocked son....