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animal severely injured or diseased to call a veterinary surgeon, and if that official certifies that it is cruel to keep the animal alive they should be authorised to have it summarily destroyed.
A further crippling feature of this Act is that it contains no powers of summary arrest. All proceedings must be taken by the cumbersome method of a summons; therefore, many cases are charged under the Police Act (Section 34) which is generally applied to the limits of all municipalities and cantonments in India.
Prosecutions in cruelty cases can also be brought under the Hackney Carriage Act, under the Indian Penal Code, and under the various municipal bye-laws. It is, however, essential that the police should be given power to arrest, as the only effective means of dealing with gross or persistent acts of cruelty; and when a constable arrests an offender he should be empowered to take charge of the animal in question, to convey it to a place of safety, and produce it for inspection before the magistrate. The magistrate should also be legally authorised to deprive a person of the possession of an animal when there is evidence to show that the character of the individual is such that the animal will probably be subjected to further cruelty.
I know that it is commonly assumed that the Indian people as a whole are but little addicted to the commission of sudden brutal acts, but that such acts can and do occur is incontrovertible, and the following cases make unpleasant reading. During my stay in Calcutta a party of Hindu syces caught a bandicoot, steeped it in petroleum, and set it on fire in Wood Street. For this offence they were summoned and fined ten rupees.
The Bombay daily papers of August 1910 published the following ghastly details :
The Second Presidency Magistrate disposed of the case in which the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had obtained a warrant against a coachman on charges of mischief and cruelty by ill-treating a horse. On 8th July the accused drove the horse and punished it. During this punishment the horse and accused both fell, and accused hurt his knee. Enraged at the injury, accused pulled out the tongue of the horse and tied it to a nail, thus keeping the tongue drawn out tightly. All the while the horse remained in that condition for nearly two and a-half hours, not being able to draw its tongue in. When released it became ill and could not take its food. On examination it was found that the tongue had to be amputated. His Worship sentenced the accused to one month's rigorous imprisonment. In passing the sentence he said that unfortunately this cruel act could not be punished either under Section 3 of the Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or under Sections 428 and 429 of I.P.C.
These Acts are indelibly recorded on the Statute Book of the British Government of India, but the present method of carrying them out cannot possibly satisfy the requirements of
any civilised and well-ordered community. A great advance would be made if the Local Governments could be induced to take up the working of the various Cruelty Acts with more system. At present it is left to individual officers to work them or not, as they like. Even if the Government merely directed district magistrates and municipal boards to work the Acts more energetically, a good deal could be effected. It would, at any rate, stimulate an interest in the matter; and an annual report from each district would also be desirable, because the adoption of such a course would prevent a relapse into inaction.
Undoubtedly there are difficulties, for energetic action, unless carefully controlled, will develop into oppression and blackmail : and extortion will sometimes follow in its wake, but the fear of possible evils is no excuse for sheer inaction. The leniency with which cases of cruelty are treated in India is a by-word, the average offender escaping with a nominal fine; to meet this the Government of India should issue an executive order in general terms to the various magistrates, or preferably, communicate with the Chief Presidency Magistrate of every district, directing that in cases of cruelty adequate sentences should be inflicted.
These suggestions by no means exhaust the list of evils to be dealt with, or the remedies to be applied, but they supply a practical answer in their particular instances to questions that urgently call for one.
The treatment of beasts of burden, the tortures inflicted on animals for the purposes of trade, the continual confinement of cows in small, dark, insanitary cellars and sheds, the systematic starving of young calves by depriving them of their mother's milk, the cruelties which take place in the slaughter houses, the neglect of live freight on the railways, to say nothing of worse practices to which one can hardly allude in public print, are scandals which have been allowed to continue too long. It is time, therefore, that some organised effort should be made to deal with this reproach to our common humanity, and one cannot imagine any better way of so doing than by awakening public opinion to the need for the amendment and extension of existing laws.
There are many forms of cruelty in addition to those already referred to, such as overloading, overdriving, failing to provide proper food and drink, the cruel branding of donkeys and bullocks, the licensing by municipalities of old and failing animals, the wild beast combats, which English visitors in India often attend, and the capture of wild elephants in Government pits, where they lie with broken limbs, and a considerable number die; this method is cheaper than Keddah camps, therefore the animals have to suffer. VOL. LXXII-NO. 427
This list is fairly long, but there are other grievances all calling for redress : the sufferings of wild birds in all the large markets of India, the horrors of religious sacrifices, the misery caused by an almost universal want of troughs and a proper water supply-terrible to think of under that broiling sun—the sales of Government casters, when the aged and unfit horses of native cavalry regiments and other branches of the service drift for nominal sums into homes of supreme wretchedness, the blinding of sea-birds to act as decoys, and, perhaps greatest of all, the abandonment to their fate of animals in time of famine.
There are sixty-two ponies in a coal-mine at Raneegunge on the East Indian Railway without compulsory inspection of any kind, and that mine is only one of the many in the Bengal coal field. Draught animals are also used in the Assam coal field at Ledo (Margherita) without adequate inspection.
The road postal services in India are worked by contractors whose sole idea is to make as much as they can out of their contracts. Even when these contracts contain certain conditions for the supply of sound, suitable animals, the necessary supervision to see these provisions carried out is either inefficient or nonexistent; for so long as the dâk (post) arrives, the manner of its conveyance is not a matter of concern. During my stay in that country one prosecution of a post office contractor upon rather a large scale took place at Allahabad, on account of the bad state of his horses, but this could have been but a drop in the ocean compared to the preventive measures that the whole case calls for.
The margin of profit to be gained by the acceptance of such contracts appears to have been cut down to such a degree that the contractors' agents can only supply animals of a very weak and inferior calibre. On many lines these ponies are practically worked to death, as this method has been found to be less expensive than safeguarding the creatures by ordinary measures of rest and good food.
In no place is there greater need of reform as regards the carrying of the dak than in Coorg, a little coffee-planting territory in Southern India, forty miles square, and, though Act XI of 1890 is in force, the apathy and indifference on the part of officials is so great that the Mysore-Mercara Tonga line (which
1 The following extract is from a letter addressed to me by a lady well known in India for her interest in these questions : 'During the terrible famine which visited India a few years ago I was in the Berars, where it was my most painful experience to watch the starving cattle follow on the wake of country carts, their only grazing ground being the ruts where stray straws fell, while for water they followed the mirage lakes so common in that country of black cotton soil. It was a realism in misery I will never forget, and it stirred the very depths of my being.'
also runs the post) is worked on methods and in circumstances repulsive to all humane feeling.
Another matter relating to Coorg which I must add to my long presentment of animal misery is the persistent overloading of coffee-carts on their way down to the coast; overloaded Mysore bullocks, goaded on by the infernal practices of their drivers, wend year by year their dreary way down the Ghâts road to the coast. Yet a simple regulation enjoining that carts loaded beyond a certain limit should not pass the tolls would put an end to such occurrences; for Coorg is a peaceable little territory where there are no reasons, political or otherwise, why humane enactments should not be enforced. The authorities, however, are too supine to move in the matter.
In my opinion all efforts should first be concentrated to secure a legal load-limit for bullocks throughout India, for this would strike at the roots of that cruelty ever to be seen at its high-water mark in the docks and at the railway jetties of Bombay and Calcutta, where two civilisations meet and the commerce of the Empire concentrates.
The municipality of each town has a regulation as to the weight to be taken on each cart, but as no allowance is made for the varying sizes and strength of the animals the regulation permitting eighty maunds to be taken on is most excessive. This regulation would apply equally to a very large pair of waterbuffaloes or a very weak and under-sized pair of bullocks. I urge upon my fellow-countrymen and women to agitate for the settlement of a legal load-limit for the whole of India, when this cruelty would cease automatically.
The same lax conditions regarding animal suffering prevail in another district-Ajmere, Rajputana. Humane observances could be enforced there with far less difficulty than in places like Benares, where the overwhelming number of the native population renders the matter more difficult to control, and where administration presents more complicated features; but, owing to indifference and apathy on the part of the authorities, the animals were in a sorry plight. The gharry horses in Ajmere-- which had all been duly licensed by the municipal committee-were some of the worst in India.
There is another form of cruelty I should like to mention specifically, and that is the manufacture of monsters for religious processions.
It is known that in various parts of the country, but especially in Delhi, secret places exist where animals are turned into monsters for exhibition in religious processions. I myself
one of these poor man-made monsters at Hardwar, a sacred place in the Dun (United Provinces), and secured a
photograph. It was being led about in charge of a fakir, who showed me with pride several legs which had been engrafted on its back, and the process must have been most painful. Several Englishmen told me that they had often seen animals presenting a most curious appearance in religious processions, and could only conjecture how such conditions were arrived at. The following extract from a letter addressed to me by a Government pensioner will explain some of the circumstances attending the completion of these monsters, and though it would be impossible to discover the various cellars and caves where these cruelties take place, yet a single enactment rendering the exploitation of such animals illegal would cause the supply to cease automatically.
The other day I learnt from Amrita Bazar Patrika that a lady from England had come with a letter of introduction from the Secretary of State for India to prevent cruelty to animals, and that public meetings were held to take up the cause in Calcutta and Madras, where such interest is taken by high authorities in the case. I am sorry that I have forgotten the names of the several noble gentlemen presiding over the meetings and the particulars of the subjects discussed. I, therefore, beg to take the liberty of reaching the society there formed by thus intruding on your valuable time by these presents.
1. There is a low-class Sudars connected to Moslem faith. They cut a limb from a heifer or calf and sew it or engraft it with the flesh of a cow. Heal the wounds to turn the animals into a monster, exhibit same on occasions of religious festivals on the bank of rivers, and collect alms by appealing to the feelings of the ignorant simple pilgrims. They disguise themselves as Sadhus. In performing this cruel operation they often kill more than one animal in the greatest agony. If it were made illegal to produce or make artificially such monsters, such unnecessary cruelty may be prevented and the inhuman class of the evil-doers be duly punished. There is another class of bird-catchers, who catch kites and crows, starve them for days, twist and torture them on the public roads and crowded markets to move the pity of the simple passers-by, thus inducing them to pay for their liberation. Had there been even a municipal law they could be prosecuted and the wanton cruelty prevented in no time.
I shall deem it a favour if you will pass this humble letter of mine to the authority who could move steps to be taken in the matter.
I have quoted but a few cases-for space forbids the citation of many—but in each instance the facts can be supported by letters published in the Anglo-Indian press, by statements from the annual reports of the Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, by the depositions of eye-witnesses of such occurrences, or by private communications, the originals of which can be produced at any time.
Religious sacrifices in India are often conducted with inhuman cruelties, but such occurrences are entirely exempted from legal control by Act XI of 1890, which expressly states that 'nothing in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion or religious rites and usages of any race,