NEW DELHI: At a time when self-proclaimed gau rakshaks are hogging the limelight, many other cases of animal cruelty are not getting due attention. India’s top animal welfare body has written to the police of all states asking them to seriously consider and act on complaints regarding animal cruelty made by honorary animal welfare officers.
The move comes as the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has received complaints from complainants that they are harassed at police stations. These honorary animal welfare officers (HAWOs) are registered with AWBI across India.
M Ravi Kumar, secretary, AWBI, has written to the Director General of Police of all states, requesting them to sensitise field officers and issue directions to co-operate in investigating crimes reported by HAWOs and to provide protection and support.
“It has also been reported that counter FIRs on baseless charges have been readily accepted against HAWOs when they have approached the police against organised crime. It motivates and encourages the criminals who undermine the law with greater impunity,” said Ravi Kumar.
The Centre has recently reconstituted AWBI, and a majority of the board members have worked in cow welfare orgnaisations. There have been many cases of cruelty against animals, such as large number of cattle stacked in small trucks and ferried long distances, attacks on stray dogs, and transportation of animals for meat.
Kumar added that one of the key functions of the AWBI as per Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, is to “co-operate with, and co-ordinate the work of, associations of bodies established for the purpose of preventing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals of for the protection of animals and birds.”
Honorary Animal Welfare Officers
The AWBI provides training to individuals and members of NGOs to serve as HAWO. Such individuals are expected to report instances of animal cruelty to the law enforcement agencies and collect information which can assist in prosecuting offenders of the law.