Assam Government to Crack Down on Illegal Use of Spiked Bits on Horses

For Immediate Release

30 June 2020


Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]

Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

Following Complaint by PETA India, State Animal Husbandry Department Issues Orders

Guwahati – After receiving appeals from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India pointing out the rampant use of spiked (or “thorn”) bits – devices with metal spikes sticking out of them – to control horses throughout Assam, even though these bits are explicitly banned under Rule 8 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, Shri Devajyoti Hazarika, ACS, Secretary to the Government of Assam, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department, issued an order to all district veterinary officers calling on them to ensure that spiked bits; harnesses or yokes with spikes, knobs, or projections; or any sharp tackle or equipment are not used to control any animal in violation of the rules in their district.

PETA India’s investigative video about the cruelty of using spiked bits and photographs are available to download upon request.

In its letter, PETA India pointed out that the population of horses and ponies in Assam is around 0.13 lakhs, as recorded in the 20th Livestock Census 2019 conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying. When spiked bits are used to control horses used for weddings and rides and to force them to haul goods, they can sink more than a centimetre deep into their mouths, ripping their lips and tongues and causing extreme pain, bloody wounds, immense psychological trauma, and lifelong damage.

“These illegal torture devices lacerate horses’ mouths and leave them with tremendous pain, and the weapons don’t belong at joyous occasions like weddings or anywhere else,” says PETA India Senior Legal Counsel Swati Sumbly. “We are grateful that the Assam government is calling for a crackdown on the use of these harmful spiked bits, and PETA India is ready to lend a hand to help enforce the law, if needed.”

Based on the results of a multi-state survey of government efforts to enforce India’s ban on using spiked bits on horses, PETA India launched a nationwide campaign in December 2019 aimed at helping police enforce the ban. Now, several states – including Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh – have 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 laws to be introduced to include a ban on the manufacture and sale of spiked bits, a loophole that needs to be closed.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit