The exhausted horse on the ground
The exhausted horse on the ground

A horse that was drawing a cart loaded with a 10-foot Durga idol and 8 to 10 celebrants dancing on it, collapsed during the procession in Kopri, Thane, on Wednesday.

The incident occurred at 10 pm near Prem Nagar. The white horse, which was pulling the chariot, collapsed from exhaustion before reaching its destination. "The horse had fainted for 10 to 15 minutes," said Santosh Aware (41), a resident of Dombivili, who witnessed the incident and made a video of the animal struggling to get up.

“Once it was on its feet, it was instantly tied back to the chariot, which had 8-10 people dancing on it, as well as the idol that was very heavy. They [the people] didn’t even offer the animal water before tying him back and making him pull the chariot again.”

The celebrants forcing it to get up (Video grabs)The celebrants forcing it to get up (Video grabs)

Means of transport
"As per the Public Conveyance Act of 1920, horse carriages are used as a means of transport, and are issued licences under the same criteria [that they are being used for transport],” said Dr Mani Lal Valliyate, Director of veterinary affairs, PETA. "At present, these carriages are not used for transport but for recreational purposes and joyrides.” Another condition for horse owners to keep the animals in stables in the city was that they would have to procure the requisite licences from the BMC.

Illegal if conditions not met
In June 2015, the Bombay High Court said that if the above two conditions were not met, then the horse carriages were illegal. The court also directed the state government to submit a rehabilitation plan for horse-carriage owners, drivers, and the animals, and said in its judgment that all horse-drawn carriages should be withdrawn and made illegal by June 2016. “The state government didn’t file the required plan in December 2015 and neither did it submit a rehabilitation plan in March 2016 – after taking an extension from the court," pointed out Valliyate.

"As of now, these carriages are in a ‘phase-out’ stage. In August 2016, we conducted an inspection with the help of the Colaba police and found five horses in violation of the laws. Most of them were weak and had arthritis. This inspection drive proved that using horse carriages in Mumbai is inherently cruel.”