Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Missing cat sends Air India, Kolkata airport staffers into a tizzy

Kolkata: Even as Kolkata airport is looking for an agency to rid the terminal of cats, a different cat-hunt is underway to locate a pet that went missing on Saturday.

The 14-month-old Dice, a male cat that had reached Kolkata on Saturday afternoon in an Air India flight, tucked inside a plastic cage in the aircraft’s cargo hold, had gone missing immediately after it was brought down from the aircraft. When the Air India cargo team broke open the cage, the cat reportedly escaped. But the pet owner, Mayurakshi Saha, who works with a social media company, refused to buy the claim and wrote to the animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi, who in turn has written to Kolkata airport authorities that have embarked on the cat-hunt.

"This incident shows a blatant negligence on the part of the airlines. How could they be so irresponsible? It was their duty to hand over my pet safely to me. The cat was like my own child and I will not leave the terminal until I get him back,” said Saha, a resident of Santoshpur.

On Monday, the cat was reportedly spotted by some ground staff at the old domestic terminal but by the time they reached there, the cat had left. A separate team of officers are also monitoring the CCTV on the airport premises to trace the animal.

On Saturday, Saha was travelling to Kolkata from Bangalore with two of her cats. While the airline allowed one of them to stay with her in the cabin, the other one was kept at the cargo hold. “When I got down in Kolkata and went to the cargo hold area to take him, I found the cage broken and my cat missing. It was a clear case of mishandling. The airline officials acted in a way that it was a no big deal. Instead of trying to find a solution, they went ahead and laughed while I was crying,” she said.

Saha alleged that while she was crying and looking for the pet, the airline officials allegedly made fun of her and didn’t do anything to search for the pet. The woman herself kept on asking people within the terminal about the cat, holding its photograph when a private airline employee told her that he had spotted the cat sitting inside the cargo hold.

Air India officials said they have apologised to the woman for the incident and that they have been conducting a thorough search along with the woman across the terminal. “We are the most trusted airline for carrying pets. We carry 100 pets every day. This is an aberration that the cat escaped from the cage. We are leaving no stone unturned to trace Dice and unite it with the owner,” said an Air India spokesperson. “Air India is putting up a relentless effort and a dedicated team is working tirelessly to trace the pet,” he added.

05/10/21 Tanmaghna Banerjee/Times of India

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