The Election Commission of India(ECI) has asked all the political parties to refrain from using animals during election campaigns.
The order has been issued following representation by Mumbai-based People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and some individuals as well.
The animal rights activists had complained that animals like horses,ponies,donkeys,elephants,camels,donkeys and bulls were subjected to cruelty in connection with election campaigns.
They had alleged that the animals were often made to carry loads beyond their permissible limits and work for long hours. Some candidates even painted slogans and election symbols on animals using harmful chemicals.
Pointing out that Article 51(g) of the Constitution of India called for compassion for living creatures and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960,and Wildlife Protection Act,1972,prohibited overload and torture of animals,ECI asked the political parties and candidates to refrain from using animals for election campaign in any manner.
It,however,said that if the use of animals is unavoidable at all for any particular reason,then they should ensure that there is no cruelty meted out to animals and that there is no violation of any of the legal provisions.
ECI has sent the letters to Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of all the state and union territories as also to political parties.
Welcoming the EC decision,PETA representative Manilal Valliyate,a practising veterinarian,said the animals even if they were election symbols of political parties,could not be used for long hours of electioneering and it amounted to cruelty.
Animals have no political allegiance and do not deserve to be whipped and forced through crowd or bullied by people who dont agree with the other partys politics,Valliyate said.
This is a victory for all animals,who are easy targets of abuse as they are routinely paraded through the streets during elections, he said.
Gujarat Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) chief Snehal Bhatt,welcoming the ECI order,said she had also recently written a letter to the state forest department to initiate action against Vadodara-based BJP politicians posing with crocodiles and using such photographs during elections.
She said such things for popularity amounted to cruelty to the animals as crocodile had to be brought out of water,its habitat,for the purpose.
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