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It has been rightly said by our Father of Nation “The greatness of a nation is judged by the way it treats its animals”.
Shaktiman is a horse that no one in India had heard of until she was brutally assaulted with sticks in a protest rally. The uproar over Shaktiman’s issue will die down soon and we will forget and move on. We need to realize that tweeting: Yes, We Care About Shaktiman, The Poor Horse. That’s Not Enough. A larger solution is required. We need to instill a sense of love and compassion for animals in our society – one that is dormant in India and needs to be awakened. Though killing or torturing humans is considered to be a crime instantaneously, many amongst us perhaps pay mute witnesses to incidences of animal cruelty happening all around us. The fact is that laws do exist in this country of ours for protection of cruelty towards animals. The main laws are The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. However few people and even fewer policemen and lawyers are aware of these laws and in the wake of human ignorance on these laws, animals are helpless and fall victims to needs and deeds of humans.
Recently residents of Krishnanagar, Bangalore were haunted by the memory of witnessing the female stray dog digging her 15-day-old puppies out of their graves and trying to nurse them because a woman resident of same locality, allegedly bashed eight newborn puppies against a boulder to teach their mother a lesson, who reportedly gave birth to the puppies in a drain under her gate. This is what India is growing into, Stand up, speak up against injustice. One doesn’t need an LLB to understand the law. People need to be proactive- cruelty to animals is morally unpardonable and unacceptable, it is over and above human cruelty as they have no voice to raise alarm and are defenseless in the face of the cruelty humans mete out to them.
Gone are the days when dog was man’s best friend. For the past few weeks dogs are in the news thanks to horrific stories. You hear of dog fight club in Haryana and Delhi where pedigreed dogs are made to fight with each other, and the loser is killed off by the owners. Then recent photographs of dozens of dead dogs who were poisoned in the state of Kerala, news of a dog being hung from an electric post in Kannur to reportedly mark a death anniversary, and reports of elephants in temples that are constantly chained circulating on the internet. There is something known as a balance of nature which is obviously unknown nowadays. However, I don’t hold animals superior or even equal to humans. The whole case for behaving decently to animals rests on the fact that we are the superior species. We are the species uniquely capable of imagination, rationality, and moral choice – and that is precisely why we are under an obligation to recognize and respect the rights of animals whereas many people feel that humans are more important than the animals they live alongside.
Know the law: Below is a list of what every citizen should do when they see someone inflicting cruelty upon animals:
- Under Section 12 of the PCA Act, 1962, injecting oxytocin injections to cows/milch animals, to improve lactation/milk-giving capacity – which is injurious to health of the animal or permitting such operation to be performed by any other person on the animal he/she ‘owns’ is a cognizable offence. However, this may be one of the most common things that you see used by local legal/illegal dairy owners throughout the country.
- Under Section 11(1)(l) PCA Act, mutilating or killing any animal, including stray dogs by using poisoning methods or any other unnecessarily cruel means
- Under Section 11(1)(n) PCA Act, organizing/keeping/using any place for animal fighting/baiting and receiving money on the same.
- Under Section 11(1)(o) PCA Act, promoting or taking part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of shooting/killing.
- The Indian Constitution, also, under Article 51 A (g) imposes upon every Indian Citizen a fundamental duty to have compassion for all living creatures.
- A complaint can be lodged under Section 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860 under which, ‘mischief of killing or maiming an animal amounts to an offence’ and the offender can be imprisoned for up to five years or a fine or both.
- Learn to make a distinction of cognizable and non-cognizable offences outlined in the PCA act 1960. Section 43 of Criminal Procedure Code empowers every citizen the right to perform a ‘citizen’s arrest’ i.e the right to arrest a person who has committed in their presence a ‘cognizable’ offence, an offence for which the offender can be arrested without a warrant.
I would like to end with the noble saying of Lloyd Biggle Jr., “Life is life’s greatest gift. Guard the life of another creature as you would your own because it is your own. On life’s scale of values, the smallest is no less precious to the creature who owns it than the largest.”