Dear Shaktiman, We Humans Have Failed You...

Police horse Shaktiman deserves a genuine heartfelt apology not a politically motivated one, writes Harish Iyer

4 min read
Hindi Female

Dear Shaktiman,

I am writing this letter to you with immense grief in my heart and hope in my soul.  I am also very upset and angry. I am angry because I saw you being attacked. I saw you being threatened by a BJP goon. O yes, I did not see you being hit by the BJP person, so some may absolve the person of all fault. The fact finding is done by the investigative agencies. Even if the verdict is that you were not hit by him,  I would not absolve him of the undeniable merciless sin of threatening you with a stick and pushing you literally on your backfoot. I think you deserve an apology that’s not politically motivated, but a heartfelt one.

In an ideal world where people value ethics and moral code of conduct, those who are responsible for attacking you, would apologise. But that is the whole issue – we are not in an ideal world. We are rather in a world where people are engaging in mudslinging and are far from having the decency to use the five letter word – sorry.

Police horse Shaktiman deserves a genuine heartfelt apology not a politically motivated one, writes Harish Iyer
BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi, accused of attacking police horse Shaktiman during a BJP protest earlier this week, was arrested in Dehradun on Friday morning. (Photo: ANI screengrab)

So, I am telling you, Shaktiman, sorry, I am sorry that my species has committed this horrible act of violence on you. I am ashamed of my species that uses you for their benefit, and then rather than honouring you for your love and dedication, attacks you brutally.

By the time I finish this post, you would be dead or maybe standing like a tripod on three feet. I know that your life will never be the same. I know that your life will never feel the same. I would love to see you in a stable, living a happy life. Having children of your own, and humans who love you as their own. But alas, my species doesn’t deserve the love and warmth that your species is blessed with. I am sorry. So terribly sorry.

Shaktiman, you have brought to the fore an important issue that often doesn’t make it to the debate in news channels. So however cruel it may sound, I wish to also thank those who attacked you. We human beings are a worthless species. We would pray to a monkey or elephant faced god and when we see a monkey or an elephant being brought to the city, brutally captured by separating them from their family, we do nothing.

Rather, we encourage the trade by taking great joy in making them perform. Sometimes we use the excuse of tradition, and sometimes, we just turn apathetic towards the feelings of your kind. We fail you, Shaktiman.

Police horse Shaktiman deserves a genuine heartfelt apology not a politically motivated one, writes Harish Iyer
BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi raising a stick on police horse, Shaktiman, during a protest march in Dehradun earlier this week. (Photo: ANI)

Until recently, we used to euthanise your equine cousins who used to serve the country along with dogs after the service was over. Don’t believe me? Read this. Though this practice was stopped, the attack on you demonstrates the new lows that we have stooped to. We use and throw with no attitude of gratitude. Every single day, we fail you. Every single day.

We don’t punish people. We encourage them further. And we validate that with many reasons. Maybe that’s the reason why we have not amended the 1960 law on animal cruelty – the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act. Did you know that one could get away with a mere Rs 50 fine? From 1960 to 2016, in nearly 6 decades, many governments have come and gone yet the law was not changed. In fact, in the year 2014, in a landmark judgement in a case between the Animal Welfare Board of India Vs A Nagaraj, the Supreme Court directed the government to amend the PCA act so that it acts like a deterrent to offenders.

But thick skinned, that we are, we have done nothing. Neither the Congress government that was in power at the time of the ruling by the Supreme Court, nor the BJP. But your tragedy, brings hope. You literally gave a limb to the movement of animal rights. We can never get your leg back, or wish you a happy life. Sometimes, I feel that we are so cruel that we have kept you alive, just so that the unrest of humans who are accusing and counter-accusing comes to an end. People don’t really care about you.
Police horse Shaktiman deserves a genuine heartfelt apology not a politically motivated one, writes Harish Iyer
Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat inquiring about the health of Horse. (Photo: ANI)

Here is my open challenge to both the parties – Congress and BJP. If you care, really care, change the law. I want you to amend the PCA Act with a more stringent punishment for animal abuse. Stringent enough to act as a deterrent. I don’t care which person and which party moves a bill for increasing the penalties and punishments in the PCA act. I wish you get done with the PCA act and introduce the Shaktiman Act in your memory, as what happened to you was the trigger for this all.

The real question now is… which person and party will rise above empty rhetoric to introduce the #ShaktimanAct for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals?

(Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist working for the rights of the LGBT community, women, children and animals. ‘Rainbow Man’ is Harish’s regular blog for The Quint.)

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