Yesterday, the nation woke up to the sad news of the death of Shaktiman, the police horse who was crippled by beatings during a violent BJP rally in Uttarakhand. Ten years after he joined the police force, the majestic white horse first lost his leg, and then his life to cruelty by humans.

A video showed BJP legislator Ganesh Joshi striking the horse. Predictably, Joshi claimed the video had been doctored, but he was arrested and then released on bail. Joshi said he is blameless and went as far as to add that if it could be proved that he was at fault then his leg should be cut off. That’s ridiculous. Joshi knows that nobody is actually going to cut off his leg.

Yesterday, this paper also highlighted how the police were slow to act even a fortnight after a stray dog was brutally attacked an blinded in one eye by a resident at the Andheri police quarters frequented by the canine.

Stray dogs and cats are a huge target in the city. Children sometimes use them for sport, hurling stones at them, or pulling them by their tails. Animal rights NGOs talk about animals being tied to traffic light posts or cars, simply to be used as target practice by urchins. Dogs being kicked is such a common sight that it does not even get a second glance in this city.

One does not quite understand why kindness and compassion cannot come from within when it comes to animals. This needs to be ingrained at school level itself.

There also has to be greater accessibility to those working for animal rights, as people do not quite know whom to turn to if they see an animal in trouble.

There’s a flippant ‘who cares’ attitude when it comes to animal rights. It’s time that this changes.

Our four-legged friends cannot speak up for themselves, so we must do it for them. If people will not show respect and compassion to animals of their own accord, we must put punitive action in place to deter them from animal cruelty and set an example for others.