Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 13:35 UK

Dog in court for breaching peace

By Amarnath Tewary
BBC News, Patna

Chhotu with his owner Rajkumari Devi - right, with her back to camera (Photo: Dilip Raj)
Rajkumari Devi (right) has vowed to protect Chhotu (Photos: Dilip Raj)

A dog has appeared in court in the eastern Indian state of Bihar accused of breaching the peace.

Police demanded severe action against the dog for biting people. Its owner says it has only attacked burglars.

The dog, named Chhotu, has been in trouble with the law before. In 2003, a magistrate sentenced Chhotu to death.

Neighbours complained he had gone mad and bitten several people. But animal rights activists managed to get the decision reversed.

Sole protector

Chhotu made his latest appearance in a crowded court on Thursday in the town of Purnea.

"The court was compelled to issue a summons to the dog since the police found that it was a threat to peace and feared that it might create a law and order problem," district official Rajiv Ranjan said.

In court Chhotu appeared to have been on best behaviour.

Chhotu (Photo: Dilip Raj)
Chhotu - no stranger to the courts

"Despite the presence of so many people in the courtroom the dog did not bite or bark at anyone," the canine's lawyer Dilip Kumar Deepak said in defence of his client.

The case continues and Chhotu has been ordered to appear in court again on 5 August, together with his owner, childless widow, Rajkumari Devi.

Seven-year-old Chhotu was picked up off the streets by Rajkumari Devi's mother, Janaki Devi.

Janaki Devi died six months ago and since then Rajkumari Devi has kept the dog as her pet in her one-room thatched house.

"Chhotu is my sole protector and I've brought him up as if he was my own child," says Rajkumari Devi who says the dog has only bitten those who have tried to break into her house.

Her lawyer says Rajkumari Devi's jealous neighbours are trying to get their hands on her property.

"They want to steal the land papers which is why they have tried to break into her house in the night. But they had to give up after being bitten by Chhotu," he said.

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