Sacrificial days poorly managed, say activists

  • Gadhimai festival
- Chahana Sigdel, Kathmandu

Nov 30, 2014-

Although animal sacrifice has decreased evidently during the Gadhimai festival this year, activists and locals blame authorities of mismanagement of the sacrificial days.

Around 5,000 buffaloes and 100,000 small animals were massacred during the sacrificial ritual in and around the premise of Gadhimai temple.

A week before the sacrifice, the Supreme Court had passed an order asking authorities to implement the existing laws regarding quarantines and ensure proper sacrifice management, which apparently remained only in paper.

Despite of animal health check posts situated in five areas, people could be seen pulling fatigued animals-- on the brink of collapse-- into the fields. Before the sacrifice took place, at least 50 buffaloes- mostly calves- lay dead due to exhaustion.

“The whole event has been a disaster for the organisers. Several laws, including the SC order, have been violated, as authorities failed to implement even basic measures for the protection of animal and public health,” said Manoj Gautam, president of Animal Welfare Network Nepal.

Meanwhile, the Indian Supreme Court had passed an order in October asking neighbouring Indian states to restrict the transportation of animals into Nepal. While the number of animals decreased from last time in 2009 when around 7,500 buffaloes were slaughtered, activists said not much was done by officials in the Nepal side of the border.

Despite a promise to fully cooperate with the SC order  of India, activists--both from Nepal and India--said the Nepali border officials failed to implement the ruling, with border officers openly flouting the order.

“We are extremely disappointed with the way the temple trust and the Government of Nepal who let the massacre of animals continue despite their vow,” said NG Jayasimha, managing director at Humane Society International in India.

The chaos and confusion continued after the sacrifice. A day before, Sashi Kant Mishra, one of the meat contractors said they were set to sell meat, bones and skin by transporting it in a container and sell it to exporters.

But, things took a turn when Dalits arrived at the venue asking for the carcass for consumption and the carcass was left to rot as authorities sought to tackle the issue. It was only a day later that the people took away the meat, leaving behind the heads and legs which were buried on Sunday. The skin was handed over to another local contractor. “We decided to take the contract after the Dalits announced they would not consume the carcass.” said Mishra, “but suddenly after the sacrifice many of them appeared for the meat.”

Two months back, Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Bimalendra Nidhi had inspected the area after which the department of roads had sent a Rs 130 million work plan, but at the fair where at least 2.5 million devotees are expected over the course of a month, there are only 30 toilets with most of the people defecating in public. “There is absolutely no infrastructure here so how are we supposed to provide service and carry out law and order,” said Superintendent of Police Laxman Malla. Around 1,400 security personnel have been deployed around the area.

A microphone put up to find ‘lost children’ never ceased from functioning, except for two hours when even the announcer went on a strike because they could not keep up with the amount of requests. It was next to this microphone stand that Javed Ansari, a local, had come across a young girl who fainted and managed to rescue her from being trampled upon.

“Corruption, manipulations of citizens for votes, unhygienic conditions, has multiplied by during the fair.”

Published: 01-12-2014 10:31

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