Chronicles of atrocities that make one’s stomach turn

There have been, of late, several reports of stray dogs attacking people but perhaps only one of the savage atrocities humans have perpetrated on stray dogs. Three such incidents are cited below as one should not get away with the impression that humans are innocent, helpless victims of vicious, predatory street canines.

According to a report in The Indian Express datelined April 13, 2023, a group of local people had tied a stray dog’s limbs with ropes in the Garden City of the Sahnewal area in Ludhiana and beat it mercilessly for hours. They removed the body after it died. The incident occurred late on Monday, April 10 but it was only on 12 April that the police filed a First Information Report (FIR) on the complaint by Mani Singh, a member of People for Animals and the president of an NGO, ‘Help for Animals.’ A local animal lover had recorded a video of the incident on his phone. It suggested that the accused had lured the dog with eatables, tied its limbs and choked its mouth with ropes and beat it to death.

The report in The Indian Express stated that an FIR under Sections 428 (Mischief by killing or maiming animal of the value of ten rupees), 429 (Mischief by killing or maiming cattle, etc., of any value or any animal of the value of fifty rupees) of IPC, and Section 11 (A) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was registered against the accused at the Sahnewal police station. The report cited sub-inspector Harmeet Singh, the officer investigating the case, as saying that the residents claimed that the dog used to bite strangers, which infuriated a group that assaulted it.

The claim that the dog was biting strangers had all the trappings of a post-facto justification for a heinous crime. There could have been a demand for identifying the victims and proving that the dog had bitten them if it was said that they were people from the locality. On the other hand, one could argue that the victims were strangers who were untraceable. That possibility that the claim that the dog was biting strangers was fabricated, is further suggested by the fact that the report of the incident in Hindustan Times cites Mani Singh as saying that the accused had started making the excuse that the dog was biting local people. Not just that. The report also stated that it had been killed for allegedly defecating on the streets. Lies have a way of contradicting one another.

In another horrifying incident, nearly two dozen students and staff of Don Bosco Technical Institute in Zakir Nagar, Okhla, Delhi, had, according to a NEWSTRACK report, savagely beat a pregnant bitch to death. A video showed the bitch silently hiding in a tin shed and a student approaching it with a baseball bat. Soon many more students arrived with baseball bats and attacked the bitch when it came out, beating it to death. As the video went viral and animal activists demanded strong action. New Friends Colony police station registered an FIR and arrested four persons, all students of Don Bosco Institute of Technology who were seen in the video. And why did the accused murder the bitch so cruelly? The NEWSTRACK report quoted the police as saying that they were upset with the bitch barking at them!

A report datelined 29 January 2016, by Vivek Surendran in India Today, records a Facebook post by a student, Haardikaa Goswamy, narrating an act of stomach-turning cruelty with which some people treated a stray dog in a housing colony in Chandigarh. The dog, according to Goswamy’s account, arrived in the colony two months before the incident. Though he was frail, people feared him and some of them even called a dog-catcher to get rid of him. He, however, had become a pet of the colony’s children who gave him food, water and care. They even collected money to get him vaccinated against rabies hoping that this would prevent him from being killed or removed.

According to Goswamy, however, some people tied him to a tree and savagely beat him with lathis, pushing away the children who tried to save him. Even their attempt to record the incident was foiled as the video was deleted. Meanwhile, someone informed the police. The policemen, however, started beating the half-dead dog. Haardikaa Goswamy reportedly further stated that the dog was then put in a sack and taken away. The children, who had no idea whether the dog was dead or alive, were reportedly looking for him, hoping to find him alive.

Not surprisingly, Erich Fromm wrote in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness: “If human aggression were more or less at the same level as that of other mammals—particularly that of our nearest relative, the Chimpanzee—human society would be rather peaceful and non-violent. But this is not so. Man’s history is a record of extraordinary destructiveness and cruelty and human aggression it seems, far surpasses that of that of man’s animal ancestors, and man is in contrast to most animals, a real killer.”

(The author is Consulting Editor, The Pioneer. The views expressed are personal)

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