It was only after the driver of the cart controlled the bullocks, was a major accident was averted.
Although none of the onlookers were injured, the incident highlights the inconsideration of mandal organisers who overburden the animals with heavy loads. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who have taken cognisance of the issue has expressed concern at the thoughtlessness of mandal organisers, warning them of stringent action, if any laws were broken.
Poorva Joshipura, CEO of PETA India, said “As we learn of specific mandals that have used animals we would notify them of the law, and the cruelty involved and danger of using animals while encouraging them to pledge to go animal-free in processions from here on.”
The load was so heavy that the eyes of the six bullocks, pulling the cart, started rolling. Moreover, the dhol sounds added to their troubles, making them fearful. Dr Milind Mhatre, a veterinary doctor from Koregaon Park, said, “Turning eyes is a sign of carrying too much weight. Apart from that, the bullock frothing from its mouth is also an indication of being overburdened. Also many animals get hyper after hearing loud noises, and try to break free. But, they cant as they are tied to the cart.”
The procession that started at 3 am from Belbag Chowk and reached Alka Chowk at 7 am also drew attention to the fact that the bullocks that were attached to the court a few hours before the start must have pulled the heavy weight for around 7 plus hours at a stretch without a break.
According to The Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, there are certain specifications according to the number of bullocks and how much weight they should carry. For example, large bullocks with weight around 350 kg should carry weight up to 1,800 kg, if the two wheeled vehicle they are puling is fitted with ball bearing.
When Mid Day asked Pune police if any case was registered against mandals who used bullocks, A A Sakunde, police inspector at Vishram Baug police station said “There is no case registered against any mandal. Pune police special branch also haven’t registered any complaint against any mandal for using animals.
The other side
Mahesh Suryawanshi from the Dagdusheth Halwai Mandal, said “We attached bullocks who don’t work in the field. We could have managed the cart with only one pair of bullocks, but to avoid pain to bullocks, we attached three pairs of bullocks. We also provided them rest after two hours and were giving them food and water at brief intervals.”