KATHMANDU, NOV 04 - The Supreme Court of India has asked animal rights activists and other parties, including the Home Ministry and state governments, to come up with an action plan for effective implementation of the restriction on the export of animals to Nepal during the Gadhimai festival.
The court on Monday directed all the parties to meet on November 14 and discuss the modalities to implement the export ban, and report the developments to it on November 22.
On October 17, the Indian apex court passed an interim order to the Union of India and state governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengalundefinedfrom where a majority of the animals are transportedundefinedto prevent ‘illegal transportation’ across the border.
“We direct the respondents to ensure that no live cattle and buffaloes are exported out of India into Nepal, but under licence,” read the order.
NG Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International, India, said, “We’ve arrived at the most crucial time, which is implementation. We have reached the last mile and we will make sure that we complete the journey successfully.”
Complying with the order, the Home Ministry said they have issued necessary directives to the Armed Border Force and Indian Police. Jayasimha said they will now be working with all other parties to prepare logistics and ensure that the order is duly carried out.
“For an order of this scale to be implemented just a few activists won’t work, we need collaboration and that’s where we are headed,” he said. At least a quarter of a million animals, including buffaloes, rats, snakes, pigeons, hens and goats are sacrificed during the two-day sacrificial ritual to appease Goddess Gadhimai in Bara district. Devotees from Nepal and neighbouring states of India will flock to Barayapur for the once-in-five years festival that falls on November 28 and 29.
Animal Welfare Network Nepal President Manoj Gautam said they are encouraged by the Indian Supreme Court’s decision and expect Nepal’s court and other regulating bodies to also take positive steps and work collaboratively. “We are hopeful that government bodies will also work effectively to bring about a change,” he said.
While activities on the other side of the border could significantly reduce the number of animals to be sacrificedundefinedsince 70 per cent of the livestock comes from Indiaundefinedanimal welfare advocates in Nepal say that a large number of animals will still be sacrificed for which they are working with the government to bring about changes in the way the sacrifices are performed.
Dr Umesh Dahal, senior veterinary officer at the Livestock Department, said that a blanket ban on animal sacrifice is not possible but they will work towards better managementundefinedfor hygiene purpose and to secure animal welfare.
The government, with inputs from animal welfare groups, has finalised an action plan, which directs a sufficient number of animal health inspection posts to be set up, to inspect animals that come in, along with post sacrifice management. But, Gautam said, without effective implementation strategy, the action plan could fall through. “Our monitors will be at the site noting every case that the government deals with,” he said. “We will try to help the government team by providing information on how they can better function at the site.”