Mankind is closely linked to flora and fauna. Domestic animals or pets have a deep connection with us, since the dawn of civilisation. Beyniaz showcases different religions have emphasised about kindness to animals and have decried cruelty in any form. Still there have been shocking incidents of cruelty against animals. Here’s Different Truths’ special feature on Earth Day.
All religions believe that animals should be treated kindly and humanely.
Sree Dattatreya of Maharashtra, is believed to be the incarnation of the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He is accompanied by four faithful dogs, which symbolically represent the four Vedas. In religious ceremonies, dogs are considered to be a link between us and our ancestors. Special offerings are given to dogs, along with cows and crows, to invoke the blessings of our ancestors.
Bhagwan Shree Krishna is the protector of all creations. He spent his childhood amongst cows and was a mentor of all animals of the jungle, where cows were taken for grazing. He said, “A person serves God, who is kind to the animals.”
Islam viewed both humans and animals as of Allah’s creation. The Holy Qur’an, the Hadith, depicts kindness, mercy, and compassion for animals. “There is not an animal on Earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings – but they are communities like you.”
Christianity recognizes Saint Roch (also called Saint Rocco), of 13th century France, as the patron saint of dogs.
Lord Gautam Buddha proclaimed Ahimsa is the Supreme Religion. The Tibetan Buddhists hold the dog in high regard. They believe that dogs are closest to humans in reincarnation and that high lamas often reincarnate as dogs.
Zoroastrianism “Vohu Mana” represents the divine quality of the ‘power of mind’ (intelligence, wisdom, etc.), which is a special gift to mankind. Whoever kills the living animals destroys his ‘power of mind’.
Bhagwan Tirthanker Mahavira taught: “There is no quality of soul more subtle than non-violence and no virtue of spirit greater than reverence for life.” Ahimsa – non-harming. Jainism believes that animals, plants and human beings all contain living souls. Each of these souls, whatever species it may be in, is considered of equal value and should be treated with respect and compassion.
Why is it then that the worst atrocities and cruelties are carried out against animals without a second thought? The recent death of Shaktimaan, the police horse, who was mercilessly attacked with a stick by BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi of Dehradun especially angered right thinking Indians, especially since Joshi was not in the least bit contrite after the horse’s prolonged suffering for more than a month after his fractured leg was amputated. Joshi came up with the lamest of excuses, which put him and his party in an extremely poor light even though the entire episode was well-documented by several news channels.
Temples in Kerala keep elephants chained with spikes that gouge deep into their legs so that they can hardly move. Horses are used in weddings with loud fireworks, mules and oxen are over-worked until they drop dead of exhaustion, a camel in Hyderabad recently collapsed on a busy fly-over due to overwork and heat-stroke, dogs were doused with petrol and set on fire, while the perpetrators just laughed and by-standees did nothing to help the poor animals but film their suffering, inhuman experiments are carried out on animals, there was mass-poisoning of dogs in Kerala despite a Supreme Court Ruling that says dogs should be sterilised and not killed, a young man in Delhi lured dogs and puppies with food and then hacked and threw them to their deaths. This list of atrocities against mute animals can go on and on. The punishment meted out by Indian law is so meagre that it would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. It is time to strengthen the toothless Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and bring in stricter laws that will not let animal abusers get away lightly. It is a very well known fact that most serial-killers and child abusers first started with cruelty to animals and then went on to sadism against humans. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” said Mahatma Gandhi.
It is the duty of parents to guide their children so that they grow up to be kind and responsible adults. Stray dogs have such miserable lives, foraging for food and being hounded and stoned by humans and children. I was once aghast to see a father show his toddler how to pick up a stone and aim for a stray that was walking past. If the dog turns and barks in self-defence or chases a cruel child, the entire neighbourhood will demand that the ‘rabid’ dog be put down. There are many cases of fireworks being tied to animals on Diwali and birds getting entangled and cut in kite string. On the other end of the spectrum are genuinely caring human beings. Shavira Banerjee not only rescued his Indie dog Cookie and nursed him back to health, but is also bringing it up with great love and care in Pondicherry.
In forest areas, there is Man-Animal conflict due to increase in human population. Humans are cutting down trees and the space for animals to roam is decreasing more and more every single day. Animals then stray into human habitation and fields and are either poisoned or electrocuted. Monkeys were sought to be
culled but the courts in several states of India have struck this down. Zoos and aquariums keep animals confined to small places and mammals like dancing bears and monkeys are trained in a very cruel manner. Citizens of Hyderabad were appalled a few years ago where an auto driver deliberately tied a small female dog to his auto and dragged her until bits of her flesh, eyes and limbs were coming off in pieces. She was rescued by two brave passers-by but succumbed to her grave and horrific injuries. The perpetrator of this unmitigated cruel act, Mohammad Younus was fined mere Rs 1050 and left off, leaving animal lovers horrified. The driver said he wanted to teach the dog a lesson as she was barking and disturbing his afternoon nap. What many people do not realise is that street dogs keep one’s neighbourhood safe from outsiders with nefarious plans. Army officers at our borders have mentioned several times that just before an infiltration or a terror attack, the first targets are the street dogs that would otherwise alert the people of the neighbourhood.
In India, it is against the law to:
• Give an animal any injurious substance. It is illegal to put out poisoned food. (Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, Section 11)
• Transport any animal in any manner that will cause him or her unnecessary suffering. This includes loading cows into trucks without ramps and overcrowding the vehicle as well as tying up pigs and carrying them on cycles (PCA, Section 11). All violations of Section 11 are punishable with a fine of Rs 100 and/or up to three months in jail.
• It is illegal to kill homeless animals. Citizens may only report what they perceive as a nuisance to the municipal authorities. The municipality is required to maintain an animal pound for animals. Previously, municipalities would kill these animals (mainly dogs) cruelly by electrocution, starvation and burying alive. After 1992, it became illegal for municipalities to kill stray dogs. The High Courts of Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Mumbai and several other states have specifically forbidden the killing of stray dogs and have directed the municipality to introduce a sensible sterilisation programme instead. The Animal Welfare Board of India has established a code of conduct for municipalities. Failure to follow the code can invite contempt of court proceedings.
• Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code make it illegal to maim or cause injury to any animal with a monetary value greater than Rs 10. It is illegal to throw acid on cows (something that vegetable sellers do as a matter of routine). The Code also makes it illegal for cars to purposefully injure or kill dogs, cats and cows on the street. Offenders can be reported to the local animal protection group and police station and a case filed under the above-referenced sections. Punishment is a fine of Rs 2000 and/or a jail term of up to five years.
• Stray animals may not be used for research. The Rules for Experimental Animals, as formulated by the Committee for the Control and Supervision of Experimental Animals, state that only animals bred for the purpose of research by institutes registered by the Committee may be used for experimentation (although, of course, such animals suffer and feel pain just as much as strays or any other animal). It is illegal for any medical, educational or commercial research institute to pick up stray animals from the street or from the municipal pound for this purpose.
In a major victory, testing of soaps and detergents on animals has recently been banned in India. In recent years, several airlines have also had to pay a hefty compensation for dogs transported carelessly, leading to their demise.
Pix from Net.