On Kolkata’s old streets, the neighs have it | India News

4 instances a day, part of the busy SN Banerjee Street within the coronary heart of Kolkata involves a cease whereas a dozen-odd thoroughbreds and their uniformed riders stroll leisurely to and from the Maidan.
The Kolkata Mounted Police (KMP) has been accustomed to such regal remedy over the 180-odd years of its existence. It was already lively in 1840 – six years earlier than Calcutta Police acquired recognised as a separate organisation. And it may need existed for some years prior.
“Official paperwork from 1840 point out the existence of a drive of two sowars (riders) beneath a dafadar (head officer) whose job was to tell the harbour grasp each time a ship was sighted on the Hooghly,” says inspector Abhra Kisore Chatterjee, who’s answerable for the KMP.
“The true predecessor of right now’s KMP was fashioned in 1842, when mounted policemen had been requested to patrol the Maidan. These days, as right now, the mounted police saved the Maidan freed from thieves, thugs and criminals who frequented it,” says Chatterjee, including, “our job doesn’t finish with patrolling the huge Maidan or sustaining legislation and order at soccer matches. We’re equally involvedin numerous ceremonial duties – together with parades – and reining in organised protests. Our horses have additionally carried out exceedingly effectively in equestrian competitions. ”
Police forces in Mumbai, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Chennai and Hyderabad even have mounted models. In Andhra Pradesh and Delhi, these models are repeatedly pressed into service. And as Chatterjee says,“It’s the legacy of the mounted police that we try to cherish. ”
Horse whisperers might apply
“To work right here, it’s not sufficient to be an animal lover and a talented rider. It is best to be capable of learn a horse’s thoughts with mere eye contact,” says an officer who has spent 16 years with the drive.
The mounted police have a sanctioned energy of oneinspector, one sergeant-major, 12 sergeants, one JCO, 5 head sowars, 85 sowars and 98 syces. However because the vacancies aren’t crammed promptly, there are solely 38 sowars and 60-odd syces at current.
“We even have 23 armed police constables engaged on deputation as sowars after present process the mandatory coaching,” stated an assistant commissioner on the metropolis police headquarters at Lalbazar.
Discovering the precise mounts
As for the horses themselves, there are 40 within the SN Banerjee Street stables and 18 in a steady at Alipore Bodyguard Traces. The collection of the horses entails an elaborate course of.
“A workforce of consultants fromthe division handpicks horses aged 3-5 years for his or her health, agility and peak, which needs to be above 14 arms (one hand is 4 inches),” stated an officer. The mounted police desire single-coated horses to keep up symmetry throughout parades and different ceremonies.
“Though the SN Banerjee Street steady is betterknown as a result of it sees exercise all day lengthy, the Alipore Bodyguard Traces steady is exclusive as it’s a mixture of nursery and old-age dwelling. The brand new colts are skilled right here for as much as six months, whereas the previous horses lead a retired life. A number of horses with us are over 15 years previous,” a policeman on the steady informed TOI.
Go-getters and shirkers
Like kids, the horses might be good or unhealthy college students. “At current, we’ve got two distinctive performers – ‘All the time Welcome’ and ‘Dancing Prince’ – who excel at the whole lot, together with jobs at soccer video games, escorting, parading, the common Maidan patrolling, and even collaborating at equestrian occasions,” says Chatterjee.
Previous-timers warmly recall their experiences on the Maidan. One among them beganas sergeant in 1988 and is now a deputy commissioner within the visitors division. “We had been controlling the group on the Mohammedan Sporting Floor ticket counters when the group started to get uncontrolled and the difficulty threatened to spill over onto the adjoining Pink Street. We noticed males really making an attempt to slash at our horses with blades or burn them with lighted cigarettes. However our animals didn’t flinch and caught to their responsibility. ”
The unit’s historical past is replete with such accounts, so it was a becoming tribute when former police commissioner, Somen Mitra, opened a museum for the mounted police a few years in the past at their SN Banerjee Street base.
“The goal is to indicate why and the way the unit was created by the British in 1840, as additionally to spotlight the work we’ve got completed to this point,” stated an officer. “The unit performed a serious function in controlling metropolis visitors within the European quarters on the time of the Raj. Our function through the Maidan soccer duels can also be recorded in historical past. Uncommon pictures in our archive have been scanned and horses that gained laurels for Kolkata Police discover a point out. All of the uniforms – together with these for particular events – are on show. ”
Their days begin early
The day begins as early as 4. 30am at each stables. The horses are given a nibble earlier than being ready for his or her morning duties – whether or not patrolling or figuring out on the paddock, or rolling (strolling with the syces) inside the KMP compound. Later within the morning, after they’ve been scrubbed and bathed, they get one other meal. Then it’s time for a nap within the cool confines of the stables fitted with followers.
This summer time, the division prohibited horse duties from 11am to 3pm to guard the animals from warmth and altered their dietary chart to make sure they acquired sufficient liquids.
The morning routine is repeated within the night, the one distinction being that extra horses are on patrol.
“That’s when many of the soccer matches are performed. However now, the largest assignments come round Eden Gardens – the IPL matches and the day-night cricket matches that includes the Indian workforce. We’re making ready for the a number of matches scheduled at Eden Gardens when India hosts the one-day cricket World Cup through the festive season,” a senior officer informed TOI.
When a horse says cheese
You possibly can inform a horse’s age by a research of its 12 entrance tooth, referred to as incisors, nippers and corners. The central pairs above and beneath are referred to as centres, pincers, or nippers. The 4 tooth adjoining to those two pairs are referred to as intermediates, and the outer 4 tooth are the ‘corners.’

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