Two More Wounded, Sick Victoria Horses Seized by Mumbai Police with Support of Animal Welfare Board Inspectors

For Immediate Release:
25 July 2016

Dr Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

As the State Government Drags Its Heels, Horses Continue to Suffer

Mumbai – Proving once again that horses forced to haul carriages in Mumbai suffer, Mumbai police – with the support of an expert team authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, consisting of a veterinarian from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and an animal-welfare officer from Animal Rahat – seized two horses with large open bloody wounds and very poor body condition (including protruding rib cages and pelvic bones) on Saturday from roads where horse-drawn carriages are restricted. The horses were also found to be suffering from severe dehydration, swollen joints and tendons, and foot diseases. With three other injured horses taken by the police a week ago, the total number seized recently stands at five.

Photographs of the condition of the horses and the raid are available upon request.

During the inspections, numerous carriage drivers ran from the scene with their horses so as not to be caught. As with earlier inspections, inspectors were threatened with physical violence and impeded by carriage drivers when they tried to examine the horses, despite having authorisation from the AWBI and an order from Mr Ashok Dudhe, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations). During Saturday’s raid, the police registered two non-cognizable offence complaints against the carriage owners and drivers under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. The seized horses were sent to the Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hospital in Parel, where they will necessary veterinary treatment and care as well as much-needed rest.

The Mumbai police, the AWBI, and animal-protection organisations were acting on the 8 June 2015 directive of the Bombay High Court, which allowed PETA India, one of the intervenors on the matter, to point out the instances of violations to the police, who, under the obligation of law, shall take action in accordance with the provisions of the PCA Act, 1960, and other relevant laws.

PETA India has met various state government officials, including the Maharashtra Chief Secretary and the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, urging them to submit a rehabilitation plan for horse carriage owners, drivers, and animals to the Bombay High Court immediately, as per the directive of the Supreme Court of India, so that the use of cruel, dangerous, and illegal horses-drawn carriages in Mumbai can come to an end.

“As the state government drags its heels on submitting a rehabilitation plan to the Honourable Bombay High Court, not only is it failing in its duty to protect the horses from suffering, it’s also putting the public at risk of traffic accidents”, says Poorva Joshipura, Chief Executive Officer for PETA India. “The Bombay High Court already observed that horses and Mumbai traffic don’t mix.”

Accidents involving horse-drawn carriages have caused numerous injuries, some of which have been fatal, including the death of a 3-year-old child who was thrown from a carriage after a passing car startled a horse.

In April, the Supreme Court directed carriage owners to withdraw their special leave petition, which sought permission to continue to operate horse carriages in Mumbai, and informed them that they need to approach the Bombay High Court by way of a review petition. The carriage owners’ attempt in the Supreme Court followed the 8 June 2015 Bombay High Court ruling that horse-drawn carriages must be phased out of Mumbai within a year. Although the Supreme Court allowed the carriage owners to ply their trade for a period of six more months or until the pendency of a review petition, it called for the Maharashtra state government to develop its scheme for the rehabilitation of the carriage owners and drivers as per the Bombay High Court order. However, until now, no such review petition seems to have been filed, and so far, the state government has not proposed any scheme to rehabilitate the horses or the people involved in the trade.

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