Despite increased animal rights awareness, many of us perhaps play mute witnesses to incidences of animal cruelty. One of such gruesome incident transpired in Chandigarh where four people barbarously assaulted a street dog and were then released on bail after arrest.
The incident occurred in Sector 48 of Chandigarh, where four persons brutally thrashed a street dog, fondly called 'Tibby' by residents of Kendriya Vihar Society. A video of the incident, which went viral on social media, saw the accused tying the dog by its legs as the animal grappled around. Pictures of the incident, which were later posted on social media, saw the dog being tied to a tree upside down.
A day after the incident, an animal rights activist group visited the place and gathered proof against the assaulters after which three of them - VK Bansal, VP Saini and Umesh - were booked under relevant sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. But the police later bailed them out.
Alleging a discrepancy in the handling of the case, over 100 animal rights activists and concerned citizens from across the city gathered together to protest against the police. Members of NGOs like People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), People For Animals (PFA), Aawaz and Apang Sewa Sanstha reportedly joined the protest march demanding the suspension of the police officials who handled the case and were reportedly also involved in the incident.
After the story was shared on social media, the dog was fortunately traced in Patiala and given medication by an NGO but the bigger question remains that how willing is the government to implement animal cruelty laws and how far is the police ready to help citizens in such cases especially when they themselves stand at fault.
How brutal does it get?
Innumerable incidents of assault against street animals happen across the country every year, many of them go unnoticed and a number of them unaddressed by the law. These incidents escalate during festivities when people subject animals to heinous acts like tying lit crackers to the tails of dogs and cows and even shove them up their anuses.
Last year, South Delhi made headlines for becoming a battleground for dog haters and animal lovers.
There were more than six cases of abduction or killing dogs which were registered in various police stations of South and South-East Delhi. In one of the cases, a man stabbed a street dog to death to protect his own pet. In another, a dentist living in Nizamuddin East got so irritated with seven dogs in his neighbourhood that he abducted five of them before dumping them somewhere else.
In another heart-wrenching video, a youth was seen grabbing a dog by its hind legs and whirling it around for a few seconds as the animal whined in intense pain. After whirling the dog for a few seconds, the youth was seen throwing it against a parked car.
What does the law say?
- As per Indian law, street dogs cannot be beaten, killed, or driven away or displaced or dislocated. They can only be sterilised in the manner envisaged in the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 enacted under the Indian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (A Central Act), vaccinated, and then returned back to their original locations.
- As per the act the Municipality, one cannot just pick up dogs, simply because some persons/administrators don't like their being around. Further, only designated agencies in the government can deal with issues related to stray animals and not the common citizens.
- As per strict guidelines, a government servant who indulges in the act of cruelty to animals will be making himself liable for action under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act or may even be removed from his post.
A rather disturbed psyche
"Such incidents are actually reflective of a sick psyche of people who live under a sense of entitlement that they can harm the weaker ones and that they are above the law," says Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS.
According to Geeta, people who treat animals barbarously are "anti-social and pose an equal threat to other members of the society including women and children." She is of the belief that "if you cannot have compassion for animals, you cannot be compassionate towards anyone.
Seshamani further says that people should not try to deal with issues related to strays on their own. "There are designated NGOs, government bodies and shelters which can help in such situations. After all, I won't go and break my neighbour's head if I have a problem. These animals are our neighbours," says Sehsamani.
Commenting on the Chandigarh incident, the wildlife activist says that police should be held accountable if they are at fault. " They have a responsibility towards the society and this extends to the protection of animals who can't defend themselves. The police should, therefore, be extremely sensitive while dealing with such issues," she says.