Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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Before desi cow exam, Indians should study how to not kill dolphins and elephants for fun

The viral video of men killing a dolphin in UP shows such acts of bestiality are committed with no real motive, or just for fun — which makes it even scarier.

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Indian students will soon sit for an exam that will test their knowledge on desi cows and also ‘boost awareness’ about indigineous bovines. But can we also have an exam on how to protect dolphins — our national aquatic animal — in light of the disturbing video that has surfaced recently? Or how to not put explosives in fruits that elephants eat, or not to throw a puppy off a rooftop?

In India, it seems, some animals are more important and worth protecting than others.

The shocking video that went viral on social media Friday showed a Gangetic dolphin, an endangered species, being brutally axed to death by a group of men in Uttar Pradesh. Police have so far arrested three men, only after the video went viral. No surprise there! It always takes a viral video or a pregnancy of an animal (read elephant) to jolt authorities into action.

These acts of bestiality are not systemic meat industry crimes that are invisibilised, which too are also concerning, but they’re acts seemingly committed with no real motive, or sometimes just for fun — which makes it even more scary.

Such incidents of animal cruelty happen everywhere in India, and very frequently, but how many of them trigger outrage or ensure action? Very few.

India is truly a land of dichotomy — where we mark our respect to animals (read lions, cows, rats, owls, swans, monkeys, snakes, and many more) in temples as ‘vahanas’ (vehicles) of deities, but we don’t care two hoots about them in real life.

Also read: Would Indians still care about Safoora Zargar or Kerala elephant had they not been pregnant

Repeated cases of animal cruelty

A similar case of cruelty against Gangetic dolphins had come to light last year in March in West Bengal, where a video was uploaded on social media showing a group of men holding the species by its tail and torturing it.

Not just dolphins, stray dogs and leopards have also been a constant object of human savagery. Remember the incident in Assam in June, where a leopard was not just trapped and killed, but his carcass chopped off too?

In July last year, a dog was beaten with sticks and bricks, and dragged for a few kilometres from a motorcycle, hours after she gave birth to four puppies in Patiala. Then in October, a stray dog in Ludhiana was beaten to death, leading to the police filing an FIR against security guards of an upscale neighbourhood. In Hyderabad last month, a dog was beaten to death in an Army welfare housing colony. Surely, socio-economic status or education give no guarantee of ‘civilised’ behaviour.

These cases of animal abuse also reflect a deeply disturbing disrespect humans have for nature — a trait that shows no signs of going away.

Also read: Why India’s plan to reintroduce cheetahs can run into problems

Paltry penalty

The frequent cases of animal abuse in India also point towards weaknesses in our laws, which carry negligible fines.

The penalty for most serious forms of animal abuse range between Rs 10 and Rs 50, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The axe and sticks with which the Gangetic dolphin was killed in UP probably cost more than the penalty.

Such paltry penalties don’t just allow people to easily get away with animal abuse, but also show how we disregard the seriousness of their ill-treatment. Despite increasing incidents of violence, torture, and abuse against animals over the years, the penalty hasn’t yet been revised.

The law has other weaknesses too, as most of the offences under it are non-cognisable, which means the police cannot arrest the accused without a magistrate’s permission. This not only leads to police inaction, but also ends up ensuring that the perpetrators go unpunished.

Demand for stringent laws, harsher penalties, and their effective implementation is not just a must to guarantee welfare of animals and tackle cruelty towards them, but to also ensure that India doesn’t become a country where only cows are safe from human depravity.

Attack against muted and defenceless beings is probably the worst kind of violence, and laws alone cannot stop it. Unless our society’s attitude of contempt and indifference towards animals changes, such incidents aren’t going to stop.

Views are personal.

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  1. Opinion pieces are good, However folks tend to write pieces about every event… now that may or may not work. In this case it does not. It is an outlier incident and does not make an entire population of a billion odd violent animal killers. An unwarranted opinion piece.

  2. Many Indians gang rape and kill women cruelly. Police are often beating people violently. Thugs are beating & killing violently. Hindu and Muslim are massacre each other. Will these people have slightest mercy on animals?

    Cruelty on animals happens in every nations to various degree. India is a large backward country of huge population with thousands of different languages. You can find all sorts of people.

    The good Hindu are vegetarian, they don’t even kill insects. The radical RSS & Muslims will slaughter thousands in hatred at slightest rumor.

    Overall, in my various visits, India is a nation where animals are largely allowed to roam freely everywhere, like cows, pigs, dogs, monkeys, even rats & snakes are tolerated. Wild elephants & tigers are also protected. Hope India also take good care of its wildlife, esp rare Ganges dolphins.

  3. Oh cmon! It’s insane that we tar an entire nation with such a broad brush! Did you know that India is the only country that has given dolphins the status of non-human persons? In India, hunting is severely restricted, unlike Europe, US, Russia et al. This is a nation of 1.3 billion people, of which 400 million are pure vegetarians and another 600 million eat only eggs and chicken! Every other nation in the world indulges in the massively cruel treatment of billions of chickens, pigs, cows and other living beings just to enjoy meat – we do far less. Even stray dogs – in other ‘advanced’ nations, they are taken to the pound and killed, here they are neutered and left alone.
    This is NOT a cruel nation – stop trying to make us feel collectively guilty for the acts of a few idiots!
    You know what I think? I think you are seeing acts of cruelty and compassion from a Western lens.
    Answer me this:
    – if a horse goes lame and you are too poor to feed it, should you kill it or should you release it into the world to fend for itself? Killing is cruel; releasing it is also, but what is less cruel?
    – if a stray dog is found in the city, should you take it to the pound and kill it, or should you neuter it and return it back to the streets to fend for itself? Both are cruel but which one is less so?
    Are there acts of extreme cruelty in India? Yes! Are they the norm? No! And if you believe otherwise, maybe you need to look at India without judgment.

  4. Not surprising. I have observed that Indians, in general, have very little respect for animals and their right to life. It is a common sight to see kids stoning frogs in pods. It is just as common to see them hound and kill garden lizards. Even more shocking is that the Nilgai(Sambar) in Gujarat is being systematically exterminated, farmers being given permission to use guns to kill these animals because they destroy crops. One tactic they employ in villages is that a group of people hounds a sambar into a narrow alley and then bludgeon it to death. Even the cruel Aurangzeb protected these hapless animals but there is no such animal protection program in place. There is no one to speak up for these Nilgai or to work to create protected reserve for them. I see chickens being handled in a very cruel fashion by those who sell chicken meat. Street dogs are beaten mercilessly simply because they bark. The list is endless. No laws will bring about change is what I feel because parents do not teach children basic values.

    • “Not surprising. I have observed that Indians, in general, have very little respect for animals and their right to life. ”

      Is that so? I wonder. A sweeping statement , probably a bit irresponsible.

      I am an Indian and there are probably 134.99 crore more who are not like what you say. Worth checking.

  5. Appalling, chilled … words aren’t adequate.

    Pure wanton evil is what it is . I think death penalty is not enough but you can’t do worse than them,

    Maybe toss them in with tigers and let Mother Nature figure out thums up or down

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