Horsing around as an idiom in English is used to describe rough play, but in this case it seems a human, and that too an elected representative, seems to have gained “animal instincts” against a poor horse!
BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi is alleged to have brutally beaten up ‘Shaktiman’, so much so that terrified creature needed to be operated upon after it collapsed with a bleeding leg and a broken soul.
The multiple fractures that it suffered could have led to an amputation of its one limb, worse still the horse could have needed to be put to sleep as they cannot survive for long on three legs.
For the suffering that it is undergoing, what was the poor equine’s fault – that it was enrolled in the service of Uttarakhand Mounted Police. And that BJP happened to be holding a rally in Dehradun against the “deteriorating law and order” situation under Congress rule.
It can undoubtedly be said that the only thing that the rally succeeded in doing was adding to the law and order woes. The Mussoorie MLA has now been booked under Cruelty to Animals Act.
The torture that the hapless animal endured did not end with the incident. If newspaper reports are to be believed, the horse was injected with heavy doses of pain killers and his leg was strapped so that it could stand when VIP guests visited it. It is another matter that Shaktiman could not take so much “human sympathy” and it collapsed, wreathing in pain after the VIP march-past was over.
Of course, the BJP MLA seems to have gone into damage control mode blabbering one silly excuse after another. First it was said that the animal collapsed due to dehydration – but then how could a bleeding leg be explained? So, a series of video clips were circulated about the horse sustaining injuries because of getting stuck in some pit. Last, the BJP agreed to bear all expenses towards medical aid for Shaktiman.
The moot problem in India is that we as people are insensitive towards animals at large. We are blasé about animal suffering due to environmental degradation, reduced green covers, poaching, unhygienic and poor conditions of zoos and cruelty animals face in circuses and at the hands of madaris.
Animals are tortured, under-fed and forced into subjugation as means of livelihood. That apart, one often sees people kicking stray dogs for no reason or leaving cattle astray to fend for themselves from community dustbins.
I have personally visited a lot of tourist places in hill stations and also pilgrimage centres where horses are used for joy rides or climbing steep terrain. I have seen how these beasts are malnourished, hugely overworked, terribly fatigued, and most often injured - notice their muscles and limbs, you will mostly find them bruised or bleeding - and limping. We think we are doing something auspicious by visiting holy places, but we forget to raise the noise about working conditions of these animals who help us reach our revered deities.
Even if someone is indicted under Cruelty to Animals Act, what does it mean for the individual – a paltry fine of Rs 50/- for the first crime! Not only is this atrocious, the fact is that our MPs have never found the issue of animal rights worth the while to take up and debate in Parliament or push for changing the terms of punishment.
Meanwhile, coming back to the case of Shaktiman. Even as the horse recovers post surgery, the trauma it has suffered is unpardonable. The MLA, if proven guilty, must be suspended from the party, fined and handed a jail term.
For a party that prides itself with a Minister who is the most vocal supporter of animal rights in the political circle, this is the least we should expect.
Is Maneka Gandhi listening?