People for Animals (PFA) Uttarakhand is a unit of Indiaâs largest animal rights organization People for Animals, started by Maneka Gandhi in 1992. It was registered in 2010 as a charitable trust with trustees including Mr Ruskin Bond (Chairperson), Mr Victor Bannerjee, Dr Peter McLaughlin, Mr Dev Lahiri, Mrs Vineeta Kumar, Mr Manu Sabherwal, Mr Rakesh Oberoi (Treasurer) and Ms Gauri Maulekhi (Member Secretary).
Till 2010, People for Animals in Uttarakhand was focusing on an animal shelter in Dehradun and animal rescue. With Gauri Maulekhi at the fore front, PFA Uttarakhand has now become an effective pressure group in bringing about environment and animal-friendly legislation.
PFA Uttarakhand has been at the fore front in various animal rights issues in Uttarakhand including raising awareness about the plight of animals during the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand where the PFA Uttarakhand team was the only animal organization to have set foot in the most devastated areas of the calamity including Rambada and Kedarnath. Pashubali (animal sacrifice) on large scale has been eradicated from 25 temples and fairs in the state under the initiative and persistence of PFA Uttarakhand, such as the Bhukhal mela, where hundreds of buffaloes were slaughtered for religious purposes in a single day and left to rot. PFA Uttarakhand also deals with animal issues in the state such as battery cages, bird sellers, dog breeding and cruelty; poaching, encroachment and mismanagement at Corbett Tiger Reserve and Rajaji National Park, emu farming, cow slaughter, circuses, elephants, deforestation, the monkey population, illegal meat shops, police training and farming of exotic animals such as Japanese Quails.
Areas of involvement
Every year Bhookhal Kalinka Temple, Thallisain, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand witnessed hundreds of animals being sacrificed. In July 2010 Maneka Gandhi heralded the anti-animal sacrifice campaign by PFA in Uttarakhand. Within 18 months of pushing the anti-animal sacrifice campaign, on 26 November 2011 not a single animal was sacrificed during the infamous Bhookhal mela in Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand.
On 14 December 2010 a PIL (number 73) was filed by Ms. Gauri Maulekhi in the High Court of Uttarakhand. In response to the PIL the High Court of Uttarakhand on 19 December 2011 the High Court of Uttarakhand ordered that no animal is to be killed in public view and no carcass may be left on any land public or private â" âWe, accordingly, conclude the matter and direct the State and its agencies to ensure that no destruction / killing / sacrifice of any nature of any animal takes place outside a registered or licensed slaughter house, if such destruction / killing / sacrifice is to take place in any city, town or urban or semi-urban areas of the State, which areas are within the jurisdiction of municipalities or other local authorities, and to ensure that the purpose of such destruction / killing / sacrifice is to arrange food for mankind and for no other purpose.â
People for Animals Uttarakhand visited various temples and held public awareness meetings, lodged FIRs against temple committees and individuals and sent reminders to the administration. The efforts led to the effective abolition of "pashubali" at Santala Devi in Dehradun, Devi Dhura and Purnagiri in Champawat, Chaiti Mela in Udham Singh Nagar, Simli in Chamoli, Naina Devi temple in Nainital, Tope Mandir in Chamoli, Aali Manjhari in Chamoli, Chitai Temple in Almora, Kalinka Tample in Bageshwar, Bhaunadevi Temple in Almora, Mahakali Temple in Gangolihat Pithoragarh, Mahakali Temple in Daundiyukhal Pauri, Nanda Devi Temple in Chamoli, Bhadrakali Temple in Dehradun, Daat Kali Temple in Dehradun, Santala Devi in Dehradun and Mansari Temple in Pauri.
2013 Uttarakhand Floods
On 22 June, a joint team from People for Animals and Humane Society International began rescue efforts to save the animals affected by the torrential rains and landslides in the Kedarnath valley. After PFA chairperson Maneka Gandhi talked to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Command, Lt-Gen Anil Chait, the army agreed to provide a troop to assist People for Animals in the rescue of the stranded animals by constructing a bridge strong enough for mules to cross at Sonprayag, opening up a crucial land route for stranded mules to be brought out.
Two members from PFA Uttarakhand including Gauri Maulekhi went to Kedarnath to get a first-hand account of the situation, the only members from any animal organization to have visited the area during the initial days of the calamity. PFA Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi exposed with first-hand information collected from the affected areas how the State Government, district administration and Animal Husbandry Department had entirely ignored the animals affected in the region the apathy of the Government towards the stranded working animals which amounts to crores of rupees invested by locals. People for Animals, Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi worked with volunteers, locals and the Army to rescue about 2,000 stranded animals. Maulekhi said, "Even after stranded people have been rescued, the authorities have left thousands of animals to fend for themselves on isolated pockets in the mountains surrounded by deadly landslides or treacherous currents. The Uttarakhand High Court in April this year had set a cap of 4,500 mules in Kedarnath area, but corrupt officials allowed over 10,000 mules between Gaurikund and Kedarnath on the day of the calamity. No Government veterinarian was available in the affected areas till July 3. " she said. People for Animals Uttarakhand revealed how the government was charging the standard fees even during the calamity.
By 20 July there were fewer than 100 stranded animals as confirmed by the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in the Kedarnath area as most had died due to starvation and unattended injuries. The animals had been stuck for more than a month in Bhimbali, Rambada, Ghinurpani and Jangalchatti. PFA Uttarakhand went back a second time to Rambada bazaar and Ghingorpani to evacuate the remaining mules which was followed by another team evacuating mules from Jangalchetti.
People for Animals Uttarakhand has caught various cattle smugglers and confiscated hundreds of animals from areas such as Rishikesh, Almora, Dehradun, Ramnagar, Udham Singh Nagar, Chota Rampur, Sahaspur . Cases are filed against all cattle smugglers.
People for Animals Uttarakhand inspected the illegal cattle market at Landhura in Laskar area of Haridwar from where 1000 bulls get smuggled across the border every week for slaughter in Uttar Pradesh. A case under Section 6 of the Uttarakhand Cow and its Progeny Protection Act 2007 was registered against the main offenders.
People for Animals Uttarakhand raided the Sahaspur Cattle market upon repeated complaints received by locals. The then contractor Praveen Agarwal was named in an FIR registered at the Sahaspur Thana the previous year by People for Animals Uttarakhand. Praveen Agarwal surrendered his contract.
Mohaan Catle Fair
Held at Mohaan since 1978, this fair allowed farmers from the plains to bring their young cattle and sell it to the hill people, and the people from kumaon, to bring the âready to work bullsâ down, for sale to the tarai farmers. Complaints were received that anyone could enter the fair and buy bulls for whatever purpose. Maneka Gandhi-led People for Animals, had lodged protests against the manner in which animals were being handled at the fair.
In 2012 an inspection of private captive elephants in and around Corbett National Park was done by Gauri Maulekhi, Member-Secretary PFA Uttarakhand, on the directives of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Blatant violations were revealed and the Project Elephant guidelines were found to have been completely been ignored.
This was the first survey done in Uttarakhand since the Project Elephant guidelines had been launched by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It was disclosed that the way captive elephants were kept around Corbett violated various laws. A visually impaired elephant was found to work on commercial rides on NH-12. While injured and diseased elephants were being made to work, their general health conditions were horrible. Housing, too, was not up to the mark and even legal status of these captive elephants was a question mark. Majority of the animals were being bathed once or twice a week. This has led to dryness and accumulation of dirt over their skin, furthermore leading to parasitic infestation.
Consequently the pachyderms were rehabilitated.
Dehradun Bhandari Bagh Slaughter House Inspection
Dehradun Bhandari Bagh slaughter house, the only licensed slaughter house in Dehradun was given a surprise visit on the 14.12.2011. According to the Slaughter House Rules 2001 framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which lay down how a slaughter house has to be built and operated, the Bhandari Bagh Slaughter House violated the rules on every single count.
Malsi Deer Park Inspection
Violations of the Recognition of Zoo Rules 2009 and Guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority at the Malsi Deer Park, Dehradun. Insufficient space for animals, illegal solitary confinement, exposure to provocation, injury and annoyance, filthy living conditions, insufficient veterinary help, absence of standoff barriers and display of infirm/injured animals are just a few.
Chicken Farm Inspections
An inspection of hen farms was carried out in Dehradun and the surrounding districts with the Chief Veterinary Officer. The appalling condition of the farms was made public through the media.
Animals in Laboratories
Himalayan Institute of Medical Science
28 specimens of Highly Endangered species such as Russelâs Viper, King Cobra, Spectacled Cobra, Cat Snake, Common Krait, Black scorpion etc. were found in the Toxicology lab/Museum of the Institute. The People for Animals Organisation, Uttarakhand has lodged an FIR recently against the Director of Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences (HIMS) for promoting and encouraging foul practices and criminally neglecting the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The Forest Department has now sealed the lab and has initiated action against a head of department after 28 snakes, three scorpions and one bat were rescued from the lab.
Government College in Bhageshwar
Under the Right to Information Act, People For Animals, Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi procured a list of all specimens accumulated by the Kumaun Kesari Pt Badridutt Pandey Government PG College in Bhageshwar revealing the specimens included various creatures protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. An inquiry was directed into the acquisition of the specimens by the college. The role of the divisional forest staff who failed to act in this matter was also inquired into. All divisional forest officers were directed to investigate similar cases in their divisions.
Honey Singh's Concert Cancelled
A planned concert on the 15th of May by singer Honey Singh to mark the inauguration of a resort adjoining Corbett tiger reserve was cancelled on Monday night following opposition from People for Animals.
Train Accidents in Rajaji National Park
Numerous animals died on the tracks of Rajaji National Park during February 2013. An inquiry conducted by team PFA revealed that these sleepers were the root cause because of which the animals kept running on the track instead of getting off when a train approaches. The team attempted to create passages for animals between the sleepers but the effort was largely symbolic as there were thousands of these lying haphazardly on both sides.
In a letter to the Chief Engineer, Northern Railways, PFA Uttarakhand, asked the Railway authorities to remove the concrete sleepers at the earliest. People for Animals threatened to stage a demonstration on the affected railway track. The sleepers were removed from the 10Â km stretch of rail.
Animal Birth Control
A public interest litigation was filed by Ms Gauri Maulekhi (Member Secretary People for Animals Uttarakhand) vs State Of Uttarakhand & Others on 31 December 2012 regarding Animal Birth Control. In regard to this PIL The Chief Justice of the High Court Honâble Barin Ghosh made the verdict that the state government and the District Magistrates of all the 13 districts of the State are directed to ensure that no one carries on dog breeding activity without permission granted under the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001.
Dog shows in Dehradun had involved dogs with cropped ears and docked tails which was an offence under Section 11 (l) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as exposed by PFA Uttarakhand. In a letter to state DGP Satyavrat Bansal and Dehradun District Magistrate BVRC Purushottam, member secretary of the PFA Gauri Maulekhi said such dog shows were in a blatant violation of animal welfare laws and needed to be stopped at the earliest. It was also revealed how no organizer had obtained a certificate of registration from the Animal Welfare Board of India.
Raids and Rescues
People for Animals Uttarakhand videotaped the Shalimar Hotel Lane of Inamullah Building on Gandhi road and found mass slaughter of animals. The authorities were informed and action was requested under the Slaughter House Rules 2001 framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and other laws such as the Biomedical Waste Handling and Management Rules 1998 and the Indian Penal Code. Gauri Maulekhi also brought to light that the SHO Kotwali, Dehradun, SSP Dehradun, DIG Dehradun, IG (Law and Order) Uttarakhand and the DGP Uttarakhand were aware about the illegal slaughter of animals and had categorically refused to stop the illegal slaughter.
People for Animals assists various other animal organizations in conducting raids such as the Uttarakhand Forest Department and the Wildlife Trust of India.
Emu Farming Ponzi Scam
Gauri Maulekhi (Member Secretary, PFA Uttarakhand) drew the government attention to emu farms cropping up in Uttarakhand and urged that the government conduct an inspection and take stringent action accordingly.
For the last three months, a team from People For Animals have been going round Uttarakhand checking emu farms. Many farmers were found ruined with emus being left to die.
Farming of Japanese Quails
After intervention from People for Animals Uttarakhand the Gobind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, has stopped the breeding and selling of Japanese quail. When the college stopped breeding the birds they sought the help of the Uttarakhand Forest Department to rehabilitate the birds. The Uttarakhand Forest Department remained apathetic. People for Animals had to intervene and requested the Chief Wildlife Warden in Uttarakhand to facilitate rehabilitation of the birds through the Wildlife Institute of India or issue a permit in writing to shelter the birds through the Chief Veterinary Officer.
Shiv Ranta Kendra Temple on Mussoorie Road
People for Animals Uttarakhand complained to the District Magistrate of Dehradun and to the member secretary of Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board about the problems caused by improper garbage disposal. In an investigation the Shiv Ranta Kendra Temple on Mussoorie Road was found to be dumping their waste on the adjacent hill attracting macaques. This in turn increased the man animal conflict in the busy area. The temple also hired men to get rid of the macaques who often resorted to violent means.
Opposition to Proposed Monkey Sterilization Centers
The government of Uttarakhand had planned to tackle the increasing conflict between man and monkeys by conducting sterilizations. An amount of one crore to set up two centers in Kumaon and Garhwal had been allocated. The sterilisation plan was opposed by wildlife activities and People For Animals members who had pointed out that this method had failed to resolve the human-simian conflict in Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. PFA chairperson Maneka Gandhi had also criticised the Uttarakhand Forest departmentâs plan for constructing centers for sterilising monkeys to reduce human-monkey conflict.
Animal Rights/Welfare in Corbett National Park
Public Interest Litigation
PFA Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi filed a Public Interest Litigation requesting the High Court to direct the State government to initiate action against the Corbett director and principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) for attempting to cover up at least one confirmed case of tiger poaching; to quash the government order appointing the chief wildlife warden on backdate; to direct the State to investigate the case of the death of five male elephants in Corbett tiger reserve and to issue appropriate directions for deployment of Special Tiger Protection Force without delay to prevent rampant poaching in Uttarakhand.
People for Animals and Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) informed the National Tiger Conservation Authority about six gangs of poachers in Corbett. A follo up by PFA Uttarakhand revealed that despite the information about the poaching gangs few arrests had been made.
- PFA Uttarakhand alleged senior officials were involved in concealing various tiger deaths in the park. Allegations were made after an email was received from a forest guard with pictures of a tiger supposed to have been poached. Forest guards and nature guides were not allowed to enter the forest with mobile phones or cameras.
- PFA Uttarakhand disclosed pictures of the litter scattered in Corbett National Park and revealed how the disposal system to remove garbage from the national park is inadequate.
- Corbett rangers are provided with one vehicle each for carrying out official rounds and ensuring that the rules of the national park are followed. PFA Uttarakhand revealed how the vehicle were being used for fetching supplies dailies.
- A survey by the PFA Uttarakhand has revealed open flouting of rules and regulations by tourists. A large number of private vehicles beyond the permitted limit were bein allowed to enter the park.
- Data acquired by PFA Uttarakhand found that the forest department of Uttarakhand has sanctioned less rangers and guards than the assigned posts. It was revealed that the forest guards are not well equipped and made to patrol areas too large to effectively protect against poachers.
- Last minute intervention from People for Animals brought a stay of execution for an elephant. The wildlife department was forced to relocate the elephant.
- PFA Uttarakhand objected to dogs being used as leopard bait and accused the District Forest Officer of flouting sections 11(1)(d), 11(1)(e), 11(1)(f) and most specifically under 11(1)(i) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. A demand was also made to buy better cages used to trap leopards and discard the outdated ones.
- PFA Uttarakhand challenged the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand's claim that a special tiger protection force has been constituted in the state. A public apology regarding the false information provided in the government publication was sought.
- PFA Uttarakhand brought to notice how the Forest Department does not consult Indian Institute of Remote Sensing(IIRS) scientists in regard to purchase and installation of thermal cameras in Corbett National Park and Rajaji National Park. According to PFA Uttarakhand the Forestry and Ecology department of IIRS, who have expertise in this matter, should have been consulted.
- Animal Welfare