Animal Welfare Board Asks Kolkata Authorities to Conduct an Urgent Enquiry Into Cruelty to Horses

Posted on by Sudhakarrao Karnal

Following a serious complaint of flagrant abuse of animals and animal suffering registered by PETA India, the central government advisory body the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has asked Kolkata police and the directorate of animal husbandry and veterinary services to conduct an urgent enquiry into the cruelty to horses used for rides and to haul tourist carriages and to submit an “action taken” report. The AWBI notes that cruelty to animals is a violation of Section 3 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, and is a punishable offence under Section 11(1) of the PCA Act and under Section 289 of the Indian Penal Code. The AWBI also asked the state government officials to ensure that horses are provided with necessary veterinary care, and that horses are removed from the trade, and rehabilitated whenever required.

PETA India shared three formal assessment reports through our complaint, including photographic evidence highlighting rampant cruelty to horses suffering from starvation, malnutrition, festering wounds, overwork, and lameness, as well as other violations of law. PETA India urged the AWBI to advise the state government to seize unfit and unlicensed horses forced to give rides to tourists and haul carriages and to rehabilitate them at a sanctuary.

In a recent affidavit filed in the Calcutta High Court, the state government claimed that it has decided to implement a policy not to allow horse-drawn carriages to ply without a valid license. The state claimed that under this regulation, proper treatment should be given to the horses who are lame, sick, weak, or pregnant.

All the assessment reports by PETA India and the CAPE Foundation establish that more than 100 horses used for rides in the city are anaemic, malnourished, and chronically starved; some suffer from severe injuries, including bone fractures; and many are forced to live amid their own waste on filthy, decrepit, and illegally occupied premises in the city, including an encroachment area under a flyover. This proves that no regulation can prevent the cruelty inherent in the business of horse-drawn carriages. A factsheet in the reports lists 10 road accidents in Kolkata involving horses, highlighting the dangers of using them to haul tourists. Such accidents cause the animals unnecessary pain and suffering and pose safety risks to the passengers in the carriages and commuters on the road. Through a public interest litigation, the groups have appealed to the Calcutta High Court to prohibit the use of horses for rides and to haul carriages for tourist rides.

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