On 12 July, as monsoon season floods Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, and Panchgani with tourists, PETA India and Maharashtra police displayed over 100 seized spiked (or “thorn”) bits outside the collector’s office in Pune, calling on everyone to enjoy their weddings and visits to the hill stations without using horses. Police had confiscated the bits – which deliberately lacerate animals’ mouths – from horse owners in Kolhapur, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, and Panchgani. These contraptions are commonly used to control horses, including those used for wedding ceremonies, through pain, even though this violates Rule 8 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, and the circular issued by Maharashtra’s Department of Animal Husbandry, which directs authorities to enforce the ban.
PETA India held a similar law-enforcement drive in April with Delhi police and has launched a nationwide campaign aimed at helping police enforce the ban on using spiked bits. After being contacted by PETA India, Maharashtra’s Department of Animal Husbandry issued a circular on 19 March 2020 directing the collector and district deputy commissioner of animal husbandry to enforce the ban and also requested that the chief secretary of the state notify rules to prohibit the manufacture and sale of spiked bits.
Several other states and union territories – including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh – have also issued orders mandating the enforcement of this prohibition. PETA India is campaigning not only for police to search for and confiscate the illegally used devices but also for legislation to be introduced to close a loophole that still allows the manufacture and sale of these devices.