Seven people in Mira-Bhayander were booked earlier this week for running a bullock cart race on a busy road in the city. The race, part of which was captured on video, took place on December 25, 2017 and was flagged by the Thane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the police said.
Shakuntala Majumdar, president of the Thane SPCA, said the race came to her notice while she was passing by Mira-Bhayander Road on her way home on Christmas Day. “I saw a lot of horses and bullock carts gathered on the main road and assumed they must be full of people from nearby villages who had come to visit churches in the area,” she said. But after she reached home, Majumdar started getting phone calls from local residents about people racing in bullock carts at Hatkesh Naka on Mira-Bhayander Road. She immediately asked one of her volunteers to visit the spot and verify the information.
SPCA volunteers shot a video showing seven people in two carts racing each other at 5 pm. In the video, the wheel of one cart comes out, causing the cattle and the occupants of the carts to tumble onto the road to shocked reactions from witnesses.
Majumdar notified the local police, but it was not until January 15, after sending a written application to the Thane Rural Police Superintendent Mahesh Patil, that her complaint was registered at Kashmira police station.
In August 2017, the Bombay High Court had restrained the Maharashtra government from granting permission for bullock cart races in the state, citing cruelty to bulls.
Majumdar was surprised to see that a race had taken place in a stretch as urbanised as Mira-Bhayander. “I didn’t think it would happen in a township where there are a lot of aware residents,” she said.
She added that her organisation receives regular tip-offs about races in various parts of Thane, but by the time they are able to alert the police and reach the race sites, it is too late is to catch the organisers and participants.
Majumdar also suspects that the stretch of road where last month’s race took place must have been emptied of traffic beforehand. Referring to the video, she added that the bulls attached to the fallen cart must not have been seriously injured. “The animals are very healthy, they don’t use weak animals for these races,” she said.
Vaibhav Shingare, senior inspector, Kashimira police station, said the police is attempting to identify the people who participated in the race on the basis of the video and eyewitness accounts. The police has booked the seven individuals for cruelty to animals under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.