A horrifying video of a group of boys in Hyderabad burning three pups alive went viral on Wednesday, eliciting widespread condemnation.
Eight boys, all between the age of 10 and 15, and many of them school dropouts, have been apprehended. They will be presented before a juvenile court on Thursday.
In the video, which was reportedly shot on July 16 at Wazir graveyard in Musheerabad area of Hyderabad, the shrieking pups can be seen trying to escape from the fire, even as the boys push them back into it.
Shreya Paropkari, who is the Cruelty Response Manager with Humane Society International, an Non-Governmental Organisation that works for animals, filed an FIR with the police in which she said that the recording was recovered from Faiz, the owner of a fish stall in Musheerabad fish market.
This incident highlights the fact that the law lacks teeth in cases of cruelty against animals. This was exposed in another case earlier this month when two medical students in Chennai, who were charged with throwing a dog off the terrace of a multi-storey building, got away with Rs 50 fine and immediate bail. The dog survived, but fractured its leg.
The accused in the Hyderabad case are likely to walk free even more easily because all of them are minors. “Being juveniles, they are unlikely to get any punishment,” said NG Jayasimha, member of the Animal Welfare Board of India. “The maximum fine for cruelty against animals is Rs 50 and we have been campaigning for long to increase it.”
Jayasimha added: “In this case, the only thing we can do is to request the Juvenile Justice Board, before which this case will come, to make the boys undergo psychiatric evaluation and counselling and be kept in a remand home for some time.”
Penalty too low
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, any person who performs any act that is cruel towards an animal, is in the first instance fined an amount between Rs 10 and Rs 50. If there is a second instance of cruelty within a period of three years from the first, the fine amount increases to between Rs 25 and Rs 100. These figures have not been changed since 1960, when this Act came into existence.
Since the death of police horse Shaktimaan in Uttarakhand in April, there has been a clamour to increase the low penalty in animal cruelty cases. While the Supreme Court is hearing a Public Interest Litigation on this, a #NoMore50 campaign has also begun, supporting the cause.
Meanwhile, another video that also came into the public domain via Snapchat showed a person shooting a dog dead and walking away. It is suspected that the accused in this case too is in Hyderabad. Following a public outcry, the Telangana Director General of Police has asked his officers to trace the person.
By a strange coincidence, on Wednesday afternoon, an unclaimed gunny bag was reported at Necklace Road along Hyderabad’s Hussain Sagar lake. The police found the body of a pregnant dog inside the bag.