For Immediate Release:
2 December 2021
Hiraj Laljani [email protected]
Monica Chopra; [email protected]
Kolkata – The horses used to pull carriages in Kolkata (some starving and many with wounds) are in dire need of help, and today, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court headed by Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava heard a public interest litigation filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India seeking an end to their use for rides near Victoria Memorial. As a result, the state government was directed to file a report before the next hearing on 18 January 2022.
The advocate appearing on behalf of the state submitted that the issue raised in the petition is of serious concern and that state authorities are in the process of finding out the solution for them. The court also instructed the petitioner to supply a complete set of papers to the intervener in this matter.
The petition relies on a recent study report revealing that more than 100 horses used for rides in the city are anaemic, malnourished, and chronically starved; that some suffer from severe injuries, including bone fractures; and that 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.
The study report and photographs are available for download upon request.
“Forcing often malnourished and wounded horses to haul people in carriages through city traffic is cruel and dangerous. Horse-drawn carriages are already prohibited in Mumbai, while similarly, horse-drawn tongas are banned in Delhi,” says PETA India Principal Legal Counsel Swati Sumbly. “Most tourists are shocked and appalled by the outright cruelty to horses and their terrible conditions, and kind locals prefer forms of entertainment that don’t harm animals. A prohibition on horse-drawn carriages is necessary.”
A factsheet in the study report lists about 10 road accidents in Kolkata involving horses, highlighting the dangers of using them to haul tourists. The petition also points out that horse-drawn carriages in Kolkata apparently violate various provisions of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act, 1980; and the Calcutta Hackney-Carriage Act, 1919. The petitioners are seeking the court’s direction to form an enforcement committee conferred with the power to seize unlicensed and unfit horses used for hauling carriages in apparent violation of the laws.
Also mentioned in the petition is that after the Bombay High Court prohibited horse-drawn carriages in 2015 following efforts by PETA India and other groups, carriage owners and drivers in Mumbai started successfully running eco-friendly electric carriages instead.
PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.