File photo of Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch | Twitter | @ashwani_mahajan
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New Delhi: Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch,  Friday asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah for a probe into the activities and funding of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) after the latter called elephant rides at Rajasthan’s Amer Fort an example of animal cruelty.

In a post Friday, the PETA India proposed battery-operated cars in Jaipur’s Amer Fort in place of elephant rides for visitors.

Mahajan responded to its tweet by saying that PETA raised questions against Indian culture and killed traditional employment avenues in the name of animal rights. He gave the example of Jallikattu and also tagged Shah in his response.

PETA had released videos and awareness campaigns against the Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. It had also opposed the Tamil Nadu government’s 2017 decision to permit Jallikattu, later challenging it in the Supreme Court.

ThePrint tried contacting Mahajan via phone calls but failed to receive a response till the time this report was sent for publication.

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PETA India CEO Manilal Valliyate told ThePrint that the organisation focusses on facts and treats all animals equally.

On allegations of being termed anti-Indian, Valliyate said, “We use different occasions and festivals to put across messages on how various animals suffer. Be it Christian holidays, Muslim or Hindu festivals.”

Valliyate said PETA will respond to Mahajan’s tweet, saying they always respond when they believe facts are being misrepresented. “Half of the elephants in Rajasthan are being kept illegally. They are captured from the wild unlawfully,” he added.

The PETA CEO also said a very small population, with access to social media, had vested interests and misrepresented their awareness programmes. But the silver lining, he added, was that “trolls” often lead to more visibility of their videos and campaigns.

“We have seen a 1,000 per cent rise in our awareness campaign videos. The bright side is that more hidden stories come to the forefront,” Valliyate said.

Also read: Animal welfare body pulls up Tamil Nadu govt for ‘death’ of bulls during Jallikattu

‘People interested in PETA’s work exceeds those who troll us’

PETA India was launched in Mumbai in January 2000. The body says it focuses on areas where animals suffer the most, such as in laboratories, food industry and the entertainment business.

The organisation’s main principle is that animals should not be experimented on, either to eat, wear or for entertainment.

It is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) corporation funded almost exclusively by the contributions of its members.

This isn’t the first time that PETA’s campaigns have been called out. A week ago, BJP supporter and author Shefali Vaidya commented on its campaign urging people to go leather-free this Raksha Bandhan.

Vaidya had called the animal rights organisation “anti-Hindu” which lead to a series of tweets between her and PETA.

While she accused PETA of only targeting Hindu festivals, the animal-rights body responded by saying that their campaigns went beyond religions.

Valliyate, however, said exchanges such as these only helps increase awareness around PETA’s billboard campaigns. “The number of people who are genuinely interested in our work far exceeds those who troll us and misrepresent our work,” he added.

Also read: PETA slammed for ‘being racist, spreading misinformation’ over coronavirus tweet


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