Shopian: Abandoned by their owners, dozens of horses are out shivering in the freezing cold in Shopian, roaming in search of food but themselves at risk of falling prey to wild animals.
These horses can be seen in different areas of Shopian town and adjoining villages, victims of callous humans who used and abused them for money but left them to die when these horses most needed shelter and food.
A wildlife expert told Kashmir Reader that for a month now there have been reports of wild animals being sighted in many inhabited areas of the district, which suggests that the horses wandering about in the open are attracting wild animals. The wild animals could pose a threat to humans as well, the wildlife expert said.
Recently, one lame horse was taken into rehabilitation by the Shopian Municipal Committee, but due to lack of a stray animal shelter home, there was no option but to set it free again.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that due to the lack of food amid heaps of snow, these horses now eat barks of fruit trees.
In the town area the horses assemble around spots where people throw away food waste. This obstructs traffic and also becomes a problem to the local residents in odd hours.
Dr Ashiq Hussain, a senior veterinary doctor posted in Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that these horses have been left behind by people from Rajouri who have gone back to Rajori as part of their seasonal migration.
“Land for the construction of a shelter home for stray animals has been sanctioned by the government recently. After the release of funds, work on construction of the shelter will be started,” Dr Hussain said, adding that the department recently carried out a survey of horses’ health and all of them were found to be healthy.
Chief Executive Officer of the Municipal Committee Shopian, Muhammad Ismail, told Kashmir Reader that there is no place to put these animals in shelter. “We recently put one such horse in an arranged accommodation and provided food but after two days it left the spot,” he said.
He said that they tried to trace out the owners of these horses but failed to find any of them.
The animal welfare organisation PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) in an emailed communication with this reporter wrote that horses abandoned on road pose serious public health risks and can cause traffic accidents in which both animals and people can get killed or severely injured.
“Article 51(A)(g) of the Constitution of India states: ‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures,’” PETA wrote in the email. “As per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, it a punishable offence if a person in charge of an animal fails to provide the animal with sufficient food, water, or shelter (under Sections 3 and 11(1)(h)) and to abandon an animal to suffer from hunger and thirst (under Section 11(1)(i)). Under Section 289 of The Indian Penal Code (IPC) regarding “negligent conduct with respect to [an] animal”, it is an offence punishable with up to six months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to Rs 1,000, or both, to endanger human life by knowingly or negligently failing to care for an animal. Through its 7 May 2014 judgment in Special Leave Petition (Civil) No 11686 of 2007, the Honourable Supreme Court of India directed that it is the duty of the government to enforce the provisions of the PCA Act, 1960, and the directions and declarations of the court.”