Thursday, 17 November 2011

Activists renew call for ban on ‘Victorias’

MUMBAI: Monday night's incident, where an exhausted horse collapsed while pulling a carriage with eight persons near the Gateway of India, has once again highlighted the pitiable conditions of working animals in the city.

Animal activists have long been demanding a total ban of open-air carriages or 'Victorias' in Mumbai as the practice is cruel to horses. A PIL filed by the Animals and Birds Charitable Trust in this regard is also being heard in the Bombay high court.

"The horse which had collapsed near Gateway is now being treated at our animal hospital in Parel. It looks weak, with a visible limp due to injuries on its hind legs," said Lt Colonel J C Khanna, secretary of Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA).  

Khanna is of the view that if all the rules related to 'Victorias' are not followed by horse owners and handlers, then it would be best to abolish horse-drawn carriages from the city. "Just 20 days ago, BSPCA had notified all 170 'Victoria' owners about the ongoing HC case and cautioned them to be sensitive towards the horses, or face a ban," he added.

Vandana Kriplani, an activist with Animals Matter To Me (AMTM), who first rushed to the aid of the fallen horse, said, "These horses undergo a lot of cruelty on the roads and in their unhygienic stables. They are often malnourished, thirsty, and yet forced to trot for long hours to entertain tourists."

Another activist, Hoshang Billimoria, added, "During weekends, I have often seen 'Victorias' plying in south Mumbai even after midnight in order to cater to eager tourists. With no policing on their handlers, the poor horses are literally being flogged to death for quick profits."

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