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Top court order raises questions over Dasara jumbos too

Dasara elephants take part in a cannon drill in Mysuru. dh PHOTO / SAVITHA B R

The Supreme Court’s notice to the Kerala government over the alleged violation of Performing Animals (Registration) Rules while celebrating the famous Thrissur Pooram festival has thrown open pandora’s box on similar such festivals elsewhere. The incident has also put the spotlight on the world famous Jambu Savari witnessed during the Dasara festivities in Mysuru—the cultural capital of Karnataka.

Animal welfare groups had previously too staged demonstrations against the parading of elephants during the Mysuru Dasara, citing various reasons. The animal activists say that the elephants are excluded from the list of animals banned from performances under section 22 of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. “The existing laws prohibit any training, exhibition or use of elephants for performances that require them to engage in any type of behaviour that isn’t natural,” said a PETA activist.

Dr Manilal Valliyat, CEO and Chief Veterinarian with PETA says that if anybody wants to use elephants in the format observed during these events, such personalities must register with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

“The AWBI has written to the Karnataka Forest Department reminding it that in order to parade elephants during the Dasara festival, the department must register with the Board. But till date, they have not done it. The Supreme Court has also ruled in one of its orders in 2015 about the implementation of this law,” he argued.

Citing similar practices in Rajasthan and Kerala, the PETA has filed multiple writ petitions before various courts. Clarifying on the stand and arguments, the Karnataka Forest Department stated that its officials have always taken utmost care of elephants all through the festivities including medical care, special food during their stay in Mysuru.

Sanjai Mohan, Chief Wildlife Warden and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) told DH that he will verify with the government records about the permission from AWBI. “Mysuru Dasara has been celebrated for several years and the state government is involved at all stages of the festival. Be it the parading of elephants or other activities conducted on government’s order. However, registering with the AWBI for parading elephants, I will have to check with the records and only then I will be able to react on it,” he said.

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