Monday, 21 November 2011

State govt told to take the bull by the horns!

PUNE: The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which is governed by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), has issued a notice to the Maharashtra government, asking it to uphold its recent notification seeking a ban on bullock-cart racing.

AWBI, in its correspondence dated November 11, has disagreed with the government contention 'bulls' is a generic term and does not include bullocks.

Animal lovers, who had brought to the notice of AWBI the 'twisting of words' by the State government, have now demanded that a fresh Government Resolution (GR) be issued that will supercede the earlier GR which, in a way, supports bullock-cart racing.

“The MoEF on July 11 had issued a notification, banning the bull as a performing animal. In compliance with this notification, the Maharashtra government on August 24 issued a GR. However, the State government came out with a clarification on September 12, stating that meaning of bull is 'saandh/Valu' and the ban is applicable only to these category of animals,” animal rights activist Anil Katariya told reporters on Thursday.

“We took up the issue with  the AWBI, which has now asked the State government to ensure that bullock-cart races are not organised in the State,” he said, and demanded issuance of a GR by the government at the earliest to ban bullock-cart racing.

Another activist Amruta Ubale, who had sought information from the MoEF under the RTI Act that generic definition of a bull does include bullocks, said bullock-cart racing not only violates animal rights but also causes harm to human lives.

“We have come across many cases in which people had to lose their lives due to bullock-cart racing and many who got injured had to pay a heavy price for medication,” she said. 

My take

Bulls are docile animals. They are known for their capacity to carry weight and not for their speed. Because of this farmers use them for ploughing fields and transportation. Important point to be considered here is that these animals do not volunteer for races. You can clearly see their reluctance towards participating in these races through their body language. Medium of fear, pain and intoxication is used to drive performance from them. Bulls are subjected to various forms of cruelty like inhumane transportation, whipped, poking, biting and twisting of tails, use of spiked instruments, forcing them to consume alcohol, injuries caused due to accident, pumping them with steroids, psychological trauma, etc. 

Spiked instruments used to goad the bull
Bull forcefully made to drink alcohol
Spiked instruments used to goad the bull
Man biting bull's tail

Bullock cart races not only violate animal rights but they blatantly violate human rights too. Many people have known to lose their lives due to these races. We have investigated many such cases. By standers become victim of accidents in these races and get severely injured and finally succumb to death. The people who get injured and die are men, so families lose their main support (emotional as well as financial). All attempts are made to hide such deaths/accidents. Most of the villagers agree to the cruelty inflicted on animals and humans and feel these races should be stopped but their voices are suppressed.

Often the owners, organizers, politicians, etc say that bullock cart races are a part of our tradition and should continue but our tradition and culture does not teach us to be cruel to animals and humans. We need to re think and stop these so called traditions in the same way like Sati, child marriage, dowry, etc. In the recent past a bill to legalise dhirio (bull fight in Goa) was withdrawn due to strong opposition by Mr. Jairam Ramesh, then Minister of Environment and Forests. Mr. Ramesh said that there is cruelty inflicted on animals, also heavy gambling and betting takes place and further that all traditions need not be continued especially when it is seen that they are not in consonance with right thinking.

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