01 January 1970

Crimes Against Animals: Compassion To Be Inculcated Since Early Years To Prevent Animal Violence

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Crimes Against Animals: Compassion To Be Inculcated Since Early Years To Prevent Animal Violence

In the last couple of years, there has been an alarming rise in the number of cases where puppies, dogs, and cats were burned alive, thrown from tall buildings, or poisoned en masse by disgruntled individuals, or groups with almost no penal repercussion, notes Mausumi Sucharita.

Crimes against animals in India often go unaddressed.
Crimes against animals in India often go unaddressed. Getty Images

What would be one’s response if one bumps into a murderer in broad daylight? One would either run away from the spot or call the police. When Haripriya, an animal welfare volunteer, was returning to home with her pet cat from a veterinary clinic in a cab, she did neither. The driver proudly told her that when he was around 14, he thrashed a cat to death “for stealing food from their kitchen in the village”. The 45-year-old driver narrated the incident with no remorse whatsoever.

Haripriya chose to remain silent because she knew that such a matter even if reported to the police would be of no consequence. In most cruelty cases, FIR is not registered. Even if it is registered, the legal proceedings take years, says lawyer Shreya Paropkari of Humane Society International (HSI), India. 

Shreya, who is also pursuing MA in Animal Protection laws from National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University, Hydrabad, has been dealing with animal cruelty cases for more than a decade. 

“In 2016, a video came to our attention in which a few minors had tied three puppies and made a bonfire around the innocent animals in Hyderabad. The children took absolute pleasure in the pain they caused. Their laughter was a cry for help. The case is still going on,” says Shreya.

According to a report titled In their own right, prepared by Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), on crimes against animals during 2010-20 in India, the idea persists that such crimes are not a major issue. Every form of violence documented is rooted in the view that animals are lesser beings.

In the last couple of years, there has been an alarming rise in the number of cases where puppies, dogs, and cats were burned alive, thrown from tall buildings, or poisoned en masse by disgruntled individuals, or groups with almost no penal repercussion. The predominant targets of violence have been street or stray animals.

Deccan Hospital’s clinical psychologist Dr Radhika says some people might have some sort of fear or bias against one particular group of animal, such as dogs. 

She says, “But going all the way to kill that animal and the scale of brutality is horrifying. Chasing away a dog is one thing, but hanging a dog like the one found in the Kottayam district of Kerala in September, 2022 or the case of cow Nandini who was deliberately fed dough laced with crackers in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh in 2020 is indicative of a personality disorder.”

The FIAPO report cites 20,000 intentional and brutal crimes against animals in the last 10 years in India. That means on an average, five stray animals are killed per day in a violent act. The actual figure could be at least 10 times higher, according to the report, which means 50 animal deaths per day and an average of two animals being senselessly killed every hour in a country that has been torchbearer of non-violence and practices ahimsa as a way of life.

In 2018, a security guard in Mumbai raped a street dog Bindu by inserting a rod in her vagina and pulling out her intestines. This was an act of retribution after her barking allegedly scared her. Bindu died of trauma and her new born puppies did not survive.

Some of the reports available with animal welfare organisations such as the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), People For Animals (PFA), and People for Cattle in India (PFCI) highlight the plight of voiceless animals. These organisations have been working tirelessly to change the attitude of people towards animals and are finding ways to address the root cause of the problem. 

In fact, in 2017, Madras High Court passed an order directing the state government to include animal welfare in school curriculum. Arun Prasanna, founder PFCI, who was the petitioner in the case, had approached the court as the number of animal cruelty cases were alarming in Tamil Nadu as well as across India. 

“There is lot of data in the United States which shows that the majority of serial killers and rapists had a history of animal abuse. They were very troubled. Compassion needs to be taught to children,” says Arun.

While Tamil Nadu government is working on the modalities of the course, animal welfare organisation Blue Cross of Hyderabad, among several other things, has also made it a mission to sensitise people in general and children in particular. It has been conducting awareness workshops for schoolchildren to guide them on how they can help community animals around them and how they can bring about a positive change in the society.  

The consensus among animal welfare organisations is that change has to come from each and every house and the message that needs to be driven across the country is that humans and animals belong to the same ecosystem and, in a civilised society, animals must be accorded their rightful place. 

Regarding the 2017 Madras HC order, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Member of Parliament and animal rights activist, said schools should have a curriculum for animal welfare.

“The schools should have a curriculum of animal welfare. Ever since law colleges have been doing the subject, lawyers have become so much more sensitive. So this should be mandatory in all schools. People should understand how much animals do for them and the consequences of cruelty and killing of any species. Even after the High Court judgment, it has not been put on the curricula because no one has written any textbooks on it,” says Gandhi.

Amala Akkineni, Founder of Blue Cross of Hyderabad, says the high court order was a very powerful order. 

“The whole country could benefit as long as it does not become a religious agenda — if the learning focuses on important life skills such as to understand the work around us and how to co- exist in harmony with the diversity of life on the planet and how to do voluntary work. To help animals, it would be very beneficial. If it takes a religious turn to promote a certain belief system, or instigate violence, then it is best avoided. The line is thin if not clearly defined,” says Akkineni, an actor.