Cruelty to animals on the occasion of festivals

Maneka Gandhi

(BiharTimes) I cannot tell you how anguished I am by Diwali. It has been decades since it was a festival of diyas, rangolis, puja and good food. Now it is a festival of vulgar crystal gifts, noisy and polluting firecrackers, expensive alcohol based card parties and dying animals.

More than 40 animals came in last night to the shelter. All of them had been hit by firecrackers, some accidentally but most deliberately. One puppy had its mouth torn open by a rocket, several had been set on fire by phuljhadis. These are just the ones we got, think of the thousands that are still on the street dying in slow degrees. The big animals like cows die from burns. Smaller ones like dogs and cats die from hunger as they cower in sewers waiting for the bombs to stop.
But even Diwali seems wonderful compared to Bakr Id which is next week. Already the markets are crammed with goats , frisky proud skipping creatures, now totally dazed by being crammed into trucks and brought hundreds of miles into crowded bazaars. They will be dragged with jute ropes round their necks to various places, mostly illegal courtyards behind houses and there they will die. The young kids, barely a year old , who have been brought up by families and respond to names like Munni and Guddu will have their throats slit in front of the children of the house that they have played with. They will die of broken hearts long before the blood from their slit throats drips outs.

Even worse than all this are the long lines of camels that are pouring into the cities. From all over India , specially West Bengal, Karnataka ,Kerala and Andhra Pradesh , there are reports coming in of hundreds of camels that have come in and are standing bound together. Many people including me have repeatedly talked to the senior police officers in Kolkata – it has had no effect. The 150 camels standing near the Howrah station will be killed in Kolkata.

Killing camels is illegal. It is a fad that was started about seven years ago by the rich Muslims of Hyderabad. They have taken advantage of the fact that they control the politics of that city to break every animal law in India. The same problem exists in West Bengal where the politicians are so busy wooing minorities , that they ignore all the criminal activities that are turning India upside down.
Let me explain to you why killing camels is illegal in Bakr Id

a.It is called Bakr Id and not Unth –Id. This killing has official sanction in a way that Hindu sacrifices do not. But it is limited to goats and they can only be killed in designated places. You cannot kill any other animal. This is a Supreme court ruling when West Bengal’s people had started killing cows in large quantities on Bakr Id. Now , since cows have been forbidden , they have turned their attention to camels. Tomorrow , it may be bears and tigers. The point is that you cannot kill any animal you want for Bakr Id.

b. There are less than 4 lakh camels left in India. They are very slow to breed. According to official estimates they are reducing at the rate of 10 % per year – which means no camels in 10 years . The reason given is the killing at Bakr Id.

c.The camel sustains the economic health of Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is a draught animal and its absence will impede all rural movement. Roads cannot be built in many places in the desert. Its milk sustains rural desert communities which will be deprived of protein. Its dung is important for the spread of many desert species of trees.

d.It has been made illegal by the High Court of Kerala by the Honourable Justice K Balakrishna Nair.The case is an interesting one . Two camels were brought to Ernakulam in 2005 by a beef shop owner and his assistant, to kill and sell on Bakr Id. I was there at the time and the district administrator was an excellent one, a devout Muslim called Haneesh. The Tehsildar of Kayannur Taluka who also exercises the power of the Executive Magistrate prohibited the slaughter. The two butchers went to court saying that their right to livelihood had been affected and that killing camels was not banned by law. The administration filed a counteraffidavit saying that all animals that were to to be sold for meat had to get a permit and that the butcher only had a permit for beef ( cow’s meat) and not camel’s meat. The camels were not subjected to medical examination so the administration did not know whether their meat was fit for human consumption. The administration further argued that “Trade of occupation or keeping of goods which are injurious to the health of and comfort of the community can be prohibited and regulated by the competent authority and in exercise of that power and in good faith”. The Health Officer of the Local Health Authority of Cochin also submitted that there was no facility to kill camels in any slaughterhouse. And , as per the provisions of the Municipality Act and the Panchayat Act only the slaughtering of cattle , sheep, goat ad pig is allowed and that too with a valid licence only and in a licenced slaughterhouse. Therefore no licence could be given for slaughtering camels. Also , the meat of an animal had to be inspected after it was killed but no vet was competent to check it and nor were the slaughterhouses as the camel is not a notified animal. The Municipal act provides that the Secretary may grant special permission for slaughtering animals on the occasion of festivals but the camel is not on the list.

The judge took all the arguments into consideration and issued a 13 page order saying that the licence to sell beef could not extend to the sale of camel’s meat. Therefore the butchers were ordered to surrender their camels and they were disallowed from slaughtering them.

I want you to take this article and show it to the police and the courts if necessary as quickly as possible. None of them understand the harm that the killing of camels is doing to the economics of rural India and to the law and order situation. The religion of the criminal does not matter : it is when his crime is ignored or condoned that all of society suffers. In Delhi , it is illegal to burst crackers after 10 o’clock but the bombs and crackers went on the whole night. The result has been that all of Delhi is polluted for the next six months and many people will die of respiratory diseases exacerbated by the law breakers of Diwali.

Please save the camels , wherever you are.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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