For Immediate Release:
21 June 2013
PETA Holds Emergency Meeting With Minister Patangrao Shripatrao This Morning
Mumbai – Today, after agreeing to an urgent meeting with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, Maharashtra Minister of Forests Dr Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam has agreed to consider permanently confiscating Bijlee, the severely ailing 54-year-old elephant, who has been illegally forced to beg in the streets of Mumbai, so that she is never forced to work again. The Minister has now ordered the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests SWH Naqvi to examine Bijlee. Bijlee is suffering from lameness, arthritis, being overworked, the effects of a horrible diet and a maggot-infested wound, and she recently collapsed. Following an appeal from PETA during the same meeting, the Minister also agreed to consider a full ban on the keeping and transport of elephants in and around Mumbai.
“Bijlee’s pligh illustrates why no elephants should be forced to work in the hot, busy, dangerous streets of Mumbai”, says PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate. “We can only hope that she’s not too sick to save, but the government can take steps to make sure no other elephant ever suffers her fate.”
In 2007, following a PETA campaign, the Office of the Chief Conservator of Forests issued an order prohibiting bringing Indian elephants into Mumbai, Navi Mumbai or Thane or keeping them within those areas without ownership certificates with conditions stipulated by the forest department. As the forest department would never permit begging, using elephants to beg is illegal. However, PETA contends that all elephants permitted within Mumbai and surrounding areas are illegally used for begging and is urging Minister Kadam to pass a full ban on the keeping and transport of elephants in and around Mumbai.
According to reports, Hatiram Goswami, who has been reported to own Bijlee, was arrested 10 years ago for using her to beg and was ordered to send her to a rehabilitation centre by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Thane with instructions that she should never be brought back to the city. Despite signing a bond agreeing not to use Bijlee to beg, Goswami returned her to the streets for begging. Each time Goswami was caught, authorities would be falsely informed that the elephant wasn’t Bijlee.
Forcing elephants to walk on hot pavement and beg on the streets of Mumbai violates both the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Elephants forced to work in the streets suffer when they are subjected to scorching heat, exhaust fumes, deafening horns and beatings from cruel mahouts. Also, frightened elephants have rampaged, killing mahouts and others. When they are not working, the elephants are chained by their legs – unable to taken even a single step in any direction.
PETA’s letter to the Maharashtra Ministry of Forests is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.