The People For Animals (PFA) was the centre of attention on Monday following reports that its members were behind the assault on three cattle traders in the Capital on Saturday night. The office of Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, who chairs the group, was quick to state that the animal rights group had no role in the assault. Her office issued a statement claiming that the 10,000-member strong group has no Delhi unit and those who were involved in the incident acted in their individual capacity.
Interestingly, the contact address given on the website of the group — 14, Ashoka Road, New Delhi — is also Maneka Gandhi’s residence. It is, however, unclear whether it is the office of its Delhi chapter or just an administrative department managing the group’s affairs across the country. And the two contact email ids provided were registered with a .nic domain, which is only reserved for those working in the government. PFA is, on the other hand, a non-government body.
On the rescue of cattle from illegal transport, the website of PFA, which has gone offline post noon, states: “Every day brave People for Animals raiding team seize over trucks that are taking cattles for illegal slaughtering. With a courage in heart and passion in their souls, they try and rescue these cattles by any means possible. Most of these animals are also found sick or injured on the streets. They are then brought to The Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre India’s oldest and largest all-animal shelter,homes some 3,000 animals. Of these, approximately 1500 are cattle i.e. cows, oxen, bulls and calves. As most of these are animals rescued by brave People For Animals ( PFA ) teams from illegal traffickers smuggling them for slaughter, SGACC is only such large animal hospital to provide shelters to more than 1500 cattles in India.”
What activities are the PFA involved in?
PFA claims to be India’s largest animal welfare group with 26 hospitals, 165 units, 60 mobile units and 2.5 lakh members. Its stated aim is to open an animal welfare centre in every district in the country. It runs animal shelters, provides ambulance services for animals, sterilisation, rehabilitation of sick/needy animals, treatment, disaster rescue for animals. It lobbies for animal issues on different levels like education, sensitisation and legislation.
It usually acts as a pressure group “to bring about environmental and animal-friendly legislation”. It also promises to ensure implementation by taking “direct action through units to protect animals and punish offenders”. It promotes vegetarianism, animal-free alternatives and works against cruelty to animals.
PFA also plans to ensure there is a government-funded cow shelter in every municipality in the country. It wants every state to strictly act against animal sacrifice and regulate the transportation of animals to ensure it is done in a humane manner. It also runs an anti-leather campaign and an animal birth control program.
The group also has a cow welfare program seeking donations, where the amounts are pegged between ₹2,500 to ₹3 lakh.
What the law says
In Haryana, it is illegal to transport cattle/animals in goods vehicles. An April 2013 order by the Principal Secretary to Government of Haryana, Urban Local Bodies and implemented by Principal Secretary to Government of Haryana, Transport Department, states that the animals must be transported in vehicles proportional to their size.
The Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act 1994 imposes a ‘total’ prohibition on the slaughter of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks defined as ‘agricultural cattle’. The law also prohibits the transport or export, sale or purchase of agricultural cattle for slaughter.