Going through South Delhi’s Saket neighborhood, right across the PVR Anupam miltiplex, you would see a tin shack covered with some old and torn rugs, and hundreds of stray dogs walking and playing around this shack.
This shack belongs to a woman named Pratima Devi, who lived here for over 30 years and is a rag picker. She is better known as “Amma” (Mother) in the neighborhood. They only reason she earns is to look after hundreds of dogs in the locality.
“I look after over 400 dogs – about 200 around my home. Others are scattered in the courtyard of the PVR complex up to J-block (a little over half a kilometer away). My dogs never bite. They have been sterilized and vaccinated by the MCD (civic body),” Pratima said.
Pratima Devi – Treats strays dogs as her children
She cares for all the stray dogs around the area and treat them as her own children. She nurses them when they get injured and feed them from a civic van in the evenings. It includes milk, stew and mutton.
Pratima Devi has become quite popular in the locality and among the dog lovers in the neighborhood. They come forward and make contributions so that she can keep feeding the stray dogs.
“I was married at the age of seven to a man who was more than 10 years older than me. My husband often came home drunk and used to beat me. My mother and I have suffered at the hands of our in-laws,” recounted Pratima, who came to Delhi in the early 1980s from Nandigram in West Bengal.
She gave birth to her first child at the age of 14! A few years later, she parted ways with her husband and started working as a domestic maid in Kolkata. After a brief stint at Kolkata, she decided to move to Delhi with her oldest son. She has two more children.
She even worked at model-turned-actor Rahul Dev’s home. “He was very fond of my paranthas,” she said. She added that Rahul Dev still comes to visit her and helps her out with money, every now and then.
After coming to Delhi, she started a tea-stall near PVR and ran it for over 25 years. She became quite popular and people thronged to her tea-stall. But her popularity came at a price.
“A neighbor who owned a departmental store conspired with two policemen and burnt down my tea-stall along with my house. I was injured and many of my dogs were also burnt. They spared no one,” she recalled.
Now, she owns a house in Sangam Vihar that she bought from her savings and her children live there now. But she refuses to stay there as her adopted babies “the stray dogs” are not welcomed there.
“My children do not want me to stay with them because of the dogs. And I cannot leave them. Who will take care of the dogs if I leave them,” she asked.
More about Pratima Devi
Pratima Devi has been a true inspiration for many people across India. Being a rag-picker and taking care of hundreds of dogs daily isn’t an easy task. Even at an age of 62, she cooks for over 400 stray dogs daily and takes care of them in every way possible – Just like a mother!
She has also been awarded the Godfrey Philips Bravery Award for Social Bravery. We salute women like Pratima Devi and hope that more people will get inspired and spare some time from their busy schedule to help stray dogs in the country!
Reference: India Today
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