The Non-Existence of “Animal Rights” in India.


May 17, 2020, The Liberacy:- Animal Rights. The term has a history of centuries, of some severe cruelty and dark shades of human actions. But the questions are ‘how come animal rights became a thing?’ or ‘Why should animal rights be even discussed’? come up which further sheds light on the fundamental issues of both morals and ignorance that still persist in our society. Time and again we have witnessed incidents where the questions on the existence of animal rights baffled us. Right from animals getting raped (the infamous cases, of a pregnant goat gang-raped in Haryana or a male dog being raped in Mumbai) to being wounded which turned out fatal, to being abandoned on the highways or deserted areas, the country has witnessed it all. From the infamous case of Bangalore where 30 dogs were burnt alive to 100’s of dog carcasses found in Hyderabad to countless dogs poisoned in Nagpur, countless incidents have been reported in all the parts of the country. Unfortunately the stats are only going up.

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Animal Rights protest in India.
Animal Rights protest in India.

Animal Rights Laws in India.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was established in 1960, to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and for that purpose, to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Chapter II (Section 4) of the Act established an Animal Welfare Board of India in 1962. This board is the key nodal agency in protecting and regulating Animal Rights in India.

Animal Welfare Board has the right to advice the government to amend the clauses in the act from time to time. It also has the right to advice the authorities that look after slaughterhouses to inflict minimum pain and suffering. Also in the cases where animals are needed to be euthanized, the same should be carried out in such a way that the animals suffer as less as possible.

The third chapter of this act deals particularly with the cruelty inflected on an animal by the people. This includes all sorts of physical injuries inflected, not providing enough food and shelter, abandoning an animal, etc.

Under sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, crimes such as killing, poisoning, maiming or torturing an animal is a cognizable offence. The punishment of such acts is imprisonment which may extend up to 2 years or a fine or both.

In Bhubaneshwar, on the 29th of April a distressful incident was reported where a female dog was beaten to death with a metal rod by a woman “WHILE”, she was giving birth to her pups. The locals took the protest online amidst this lockdown and is trending as #JusticeForApril. While the authorities have filed a complaint against the alleged perpetrator, Animal Activists are raising their voice for the voiceless to increase the gravity of the punishment for those who violate sections 428 and 429. The dog was taken to the medical care centre where she gave up after a few days. One of the puppies died at the site while the other died after some days. The gut-wrenching video of April and her two puppies went viral on social media which sparked the topic of animal rights on the various platforms.

But, Do we only need to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960) with stricter punishments?  Or try to get to the root of what went wrong fundamentally. What we as a society, can do to provide a better world to our voiceless friends?

Children are educated by both the school and the family. Subjects like Moral Science or Value Education have been a part of the curriculum in all boards for many years. One of the most primitive measures that we can take is open discussions of respecting animals in our homes. The children can be shown videos of how one should act with the animals or videos that teach them that throwing stones at animals, hitting, or inflicting any pain on them is wrong. Similarly they should be taught to inform their guardians if they saw anyone doing the same to the animals. Open the discussion of animal abuse in your neighborhood and educate those around you on what is right and wrong, what measures can we take and the penalty one has to pay if found guilty.   Support the local animal shelters in your areas by participating in their programs or by donating.

Witnessing such acts and being quiet, makes you the part of the problem. Intervene, if you come across any such incidents AND report to the local authorities depending on the graveness of the incident. Understand that the party of concern might have a psychological tendency to act in such a cruel way.
It has been seen that tendencies to animal abuse and domestic violence are closely connected. So by reporting such cases, you won’t be only helping the animal but also the family from potential domestic abuse. Would you let such a person, who tortured animals in such heinous ways in your neighborhood near your family? Near your pets? 

The local authorities or the groups working in the areas of animal welfare should conduct programs to educate and spread awareness on what is considered as animal abuse and how to prevent it. People who are not so educated should be made aware that they can intervene in situations where an animal is being abused and that they should report such people. Also they should be made aware of the possible punishments that the perpetrator will face. Also the local authorities and Animal rescue centers should conduct neutering drives from time to time to keep the population of feral animals in check. It has been seen that spaying animals lead to fewer fights and nuisance.

Creating a safe and flourishing world is in our hands. Let’s do our bit.

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