PFA remains the saviour of Sikkim's four legged friends, pushes citizens to report and respond to animal abuse
If all living beings have been created equal, then why is that animal abuse stays as a social evil? When a person is met with violence they seek help and justice but sadly, that is not the case for animals because they lack the ability to communicate verbally. There will be no end to this brutality until and unless we spread awareness about it and let people know how they can contribute individually in protecting and helping the animals.
Recently there has been lots of animal cruelty cases in Sikkim: a dog was allegedly shot down in Upper Rinchenpong, West Sikkim a few months ago. A police complaint was lodged at Ranipool police station against unknown miscreant allegedly assaulting a cow at Rawtey Rumtek, East Sikkim. Then there are cases of stray dogs being poisoned and becoming a victim in road accidents.
People for Animals (PFA) Sikkim was started in July 2020 and has been vocal in Sikkim about the treatment of animals, whether domestic or stray. It is an integral part of the main branch People for Animals, India which is run and managed by Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, the chairperson and founder of People for Animals India, which was established twenty-eight years ago in 192.
PFA in Sikkim is a non-government organization. This NGO works on different activities for the animals such as rescue operations, adoption, birth control and standing for the justice for animals etc. Looking at the numbers on a span of 5-6 months the NGO has rescued over 200 dogs and has sterilized over 60 plus dogs. The members are from all four districts which surely has helped in covering more parts of the state. There is no exact time or schedule when it comes to animals the PFA works whenever needed.
Their objectives are simple:
-Standing up for animals.
-Reaching out to animals.
-Encouraging ABC (Animal Birth Control).
-Encouraging hashtag #adoptdontshop.
-Creating proper infrastructure.
-Educate or spread awareness among the youth.
What is animal cruelty?
Animal Cruelty is the abuse towards or neglect of an animal in one aspect. Animal Cruelty involves purposefully putting animals in situations that harm, scare and terrorize them, while others simply result from people looking the other way. The cases of animal cruelty fall into several categories they are as follows- abuse, neglect, exploitation, human predation and testing.
What is the most common method of animal abuse in Sikkim?
The most common forms of animal cruelty that we come across daily in our state is an assault on animals with sharp objects, splashing of boiling water, tail docking, poisoning, hit and run, abandonment of animals, relocation of community animals, dumping of newborn puppies and confining animals in small spaces as well as keeping chained for a very long duration. Speaking on the hit and run cases, if there is an accident by a vehicle then the driver must take the victim to the hospital immediately and have to bear all the medical expenses till recovered.
Another common animal torture is the dumping of newborn animals. The newborns are contained in a sack and then thrown into rivers, garbage yards, roadsides and jungles due to which they get suffocated and eventually dies. Therefore, the owners are requested to follow ABC- Animal Birth Control.
So can one report animal cruelty cases if one suspects but does not have evidence? Members of PFA say yes. Anyone can report about animal cruelty but the sadly one cannot report without evidence. Yes, you may report to the NGOs so they can go and help but for a complaint to be filed officially evidence is a must. For instance, in a car accident, one has to know about the type of vehicle, the colour of the vehicle or number plate. One can report to any NGOs who work for the benefit of animals or they can report directly to the police station in the locality. Without identification, one cannot complain about the wrongdoer officially but if one wants to complain to an NGO and ask for the assistance in helping the animal they may do so.
Usually, in the hit and run cases when the evidence is found then, the culprit is fined a certain amount and have to bear all the medical expenses of the animal until it is fully recovered. The culprit also has to write undertaking Infront of the police officials. In the cases of the state, there is no strict rules and regulations for animal cruelty because of the lack of awareness. So, when a culprit is caught there is fine to be paid but nothing more serious. But nowadays, many NGOs are working together to protect the voiceless animals of Sikkim.
From the inception of PFA in Sikkim, there have been about 60-70 reports till date. There are several cases where complaints are made through phone calls when they reach the spot and investigate, the lack of evidence and eyewitnesses makes the case weak and fails to be filed officially. But on the brighter side, people are coming forward for the animals of the state mostly due to the engagement on social media sites. Even in police stations, where officials were previously unaware of laws for animal cruelty they have started giving more attention to animals and the laws protecting them.
Article 51A(g) of Constitution of India states that it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and improve Natural Environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. In the matter of Animals Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja & Ors. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India ruled about article 21 of the Constitution of India stated: “Every species has a right to life and security, to the law of the land, which includes depriving its life, out of human necessity”.
Article 48 and 48A of Constitution of India i.e. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) part IV of the Constitution lays down the state to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific ways and shall take a step for the preserving and improving the breeds, prohibits the slaughtering of cows and calves and other milk and draught cattle. Article 48A also talks about how “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country.” This legislation talks about the duties that citizen towards the state and instructions to the government of the day to do something positive.
Section 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code makes it illegal to maim or cause injury to any animal with a monetary value greater than Rs.10. The code also makes illegal for cars to purposefully or intentionally injure or kill dogs, cats and cows in the streets. The Offenders can be punished and action can be taken through a local animal protection group and police station. The case may be filed under section 428 and 429 of Indian Penal Code in case of taking the life of Animals or causing harm or injury to the animal purposefully, the punishment is fine of Rs 2000/or a jail term of up to five years.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 is an act of the Indian Parliament is to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to make laws to prevent cruelty against animals. Section 11(1)(i) and Section 11(1)(j), PCA Act, 1960 states that abandoning any animals for any reason can be reasons for imprisonment. Neglecting an animal by denying sufficient food, water, shelter and exercised or by keeping him chained to for a long hour is punishable by fine or imprisonment of up to 3 months or both Section 11(1)(h), PCA Act,1960. Monkey “langurs” are protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and cannot be owned, traced, bought, sold or crucially hired out. Therefore, it cannot be displayed for entertainment (including bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs).
Organizing or participating in any animal fight is a cognizable offence- Section 11(1)(m) (ii) and Section 11(1) (n), PCA Act,1960. Cosmetic test on animals and imported cosmetic test on animals is banned under Rules 148-Cand 135-B of Drugs & Cosmetic Rules, 1945. The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 is an Act of the parliament enacted for the protection of plants and animal species. Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 describes what constitutes hunting and intent to hunt. It prohibits hunting of wild animals. The 2002 Amendment Act has made penalty and punishment more stringent. It provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants and matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto to ensure the ecological and environmental security of the country. The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill 2010 prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to further amend the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and to make stronger provision for penalties, traps and criminal procedure.
PFA Sikkim is a bud right now but as time passes by, they aspire to work bigger and more efficiently for the animals. They want to be present whenever and wherever needed. The NGO is working with a limited number of members and is doing their best. PFA always welcomes active volunteers, animal lovers and willing to work for the voiceless.
By Sangay Palmu Bhutia