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Mumbaiites charged with 2,354 animal cruelty cases this year

Animals that faced human cruelty included those raised as pets, like dogs, cats, birds and turtles to cattle such as cows, bullocks, horses, fowl and goats. Mumbai’s cruelty to animals is a matter of concern, with almost 300 cases of animal cruelty filed every month.

Data compiled by the Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSCPA) reveals 2,354 animal cruelty cases between January and August. Animals that faced human cruelty included those raised as pets, like dogs, cats, birds and turtles to cattle such as cows, bullocks, horses, fowl and goats.

“The data clearly indicates that animal cruelty is on the rise with major cases related to discontinuing basic amenities such as food, water and shelter to animals,” said Lt. Col Dr JC Khanna, chief executive officer in-charge, BSPCA. “There has also been a significant rise in accident cases, which account for 20% of the cases.”

HT had reported on September 10 that a 41-year-old security guard at an apartment complex near Chembur Naka, was arrested by the police on charges of sexual assault on a dog. On September 5, a 45-year-old man was booked for beating a dog to death using a bamboo stick after the animal, frightened of firecrackers and loudspeakers, took shelter in his house. Earlier this year, HT reported that 19,028 animal cruelty cases have been reported from Mumbai between 2011 and 2016, though not a single accused was arrested. If the cases registered this year are included, a total of 21,562 cases have been reported over seven years. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 levies an average fine of Rs50 for animal cruelty cases while the minimum fine under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, is Rs25,000.

Following directions from the Supreme Court, Maharashtra reconstituted the Animal Welfare Board in July. Headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Poonam Mahajan, the board has 13 members and plays a fundamental role in preventing cruelty inflicted on animals. The board’s work includes sterilisation of stray dogs in the state and the development of SPCAs in every district with adequate medical facilities. According to BSPCA, there are 400 private veterinary clinics in the city but only one government-run veterinary facility at Bandra.

“The rising number of cases in the state, especially Mumbai, is a matter of concern. We have already had verbal dialogue with the state government. However, a list of guidelines to citizens, veterinarians and SPCAs is expected to be issued after our first meeting later this month,” said Dadasaheb Murkute, vice-president of the board. “Our intention is to push for heavier fines to improve deterrence in such cases.”

Khanna said that many cases of cruelty to animals were filed housing societies in Mumbai. “We received complaints filed by either secretaries or chairpersons from various housing complexes due to a personal grudge against the pet owner. However, some heinous cases of animals being brutally attacked have also been received this year,” he said.

Meanwhile, non-government members of the Animal Welfare Board told HT that they had begun awareness drives regarding the issue in Mumbai and several parts of the state. “Our endeavour is to sensitise the police, citizens and animal activists about this issue. From a law enforcement point of view, we feel that awareness among the criminal justice system (public prosecutor and magistrates) is critical because as per the law, they have the powers to imprison a person for animal cruelty cases,” said NG Jaysimha, lawyer and member of the board. Animal rights activists said that punishments for animal cruelty should be made more stringent. “If the Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra governments can allow an amendment to the PCA to allow Jallikattu and Bullock-cart racing, it is astonishing that states cannot amend PCA to levy stricter fines than Rs50 for animal cruelty cases,” said Ambika Hiranandani, vice president, People for Animals (PFA) and member of the board. “There needs to be a scientific and policy-based approach towards fine tuning the laws and ensuring their effective implementation to control animal cruelty.”

She added that the board will be approaching the Union environment ministry later this year to ensure stricter fines are incorporated in the PCA.

- Original article from Hindustan Times- http://bit.ly/2fh1OmL