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Stop animal sacrifices during ‘Chhattar Yatra’ at Bhawanipatna, Odisha

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As part of a ritual ‘celebration’ that is a blot on the pacifist ethos of Odisha, nearly ten thousand animals and birds being sacrificed every year in the Kalahandi district headquarters of Bhawanipatna to ‘propitiate’ Goddess Manikeswari, the presiding deity of the town, during the annual "Chhattar yatra".

Tradition of animal sacrifice

The tradition of animal sacrifice dates back to proto-historic Harappa from where seals depicting the practice have been found. In Hinduism, there are both vedic and non-vedic (mainly tribal) traditions of the practice. Vaishnav protagonists eschewing sacrifice worship Ram and Krishna both of whom were known hunters.
Shaivite cults generally shun sacrifice. Bhairav, a god from this pantheon, is an exception with followers offering both animals and liquor.

Reform movements since the Bhakti movement of the 15th and 16th centuries have brought about symbolic sacrifices in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country including Bihar. Rice and til have become substitutes for lambs, bulls and goats while other symbolic sacrifices include coconuts, betelnuts and pumpkins.

What the law says

Animal sacrifice is illegal. The act of animal sacrifices is covered under Local Municipal Corporation Acts, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Indian PenalCode (IPC). It is also specifically forbidden in the following states under The Prohibition of Bird and Animal Sacrifice Act:
a) Andhra Pradesh
b) Gujarat
c) Karnataka
d) Kerala
e) Pondicherry
f) Rajasthan
g) Tamil Nadu 

Local Municipal Corporation Acts:
Municipalities laws prohibit the slaughter of any animal within a Corporation area, other than in a licensed slaughterhouse. Since temples and streets, where animal sacrifices usually occur, are unlicensed, it becomes illegal to slaughter animals at these places.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
The Act, prohibits the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering on an animal and makes such unnecessary pain and suffering a penal offense. Sub- section (3) of section 11 PCA says that it is the duty of every person having the care and charge of any animal to take all reasonable measure to ensure the well being of such animal and to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering. The penalty under this Act is, the offender (in the case of a first offense) will have to pay fine which shall extend to fifty rupees and if it is the case of second offense or subsequent offense committed within three years of the previous offense, he will be fined with not less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend to one hundred rupees or with the imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with both. Also, in the case of second offense, the offender’s vehicle is confiscated, and he will never be allowed to keep an animal again.

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
This Act prohibits injury to any wild animal, which is considered to be government property, under section 39. The definition of an “animal” in the Act includes amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals and their young. In the case of bird and reptiles, even their eggs are included in this category. Section 51 of the Act provides the penalty for the person guilty of an offense under this Act. The accused on conviction, will be punishable with imprisonment for a term of three years or with fine of twenty- five thousand rupees or with both. And in the case of a second or subsequent offense, the term of imprisonment will be seven years with fine of ten thousand rupees.

Indian Penal Code (IPC):
Under Section 268 of IPC, 1860 a person is guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have persons who may have occasion to use any public right. A common nuisance is not excused on the ground it causes some convenience or advantage. Under 269/270 It can be a negligent act or a malignant act which can spread infection or disease dangerous to life. These sections enable a person to file a charge sheet to prohibit the killing of an animal or the sale of the meat obtained from sacrificed animals, in any public place, other than those which are registered for this purpose. Also, the killing of an animal in public place amounts to public nuisance, and annoyance to the public.

With the implementation of Prohibition of Bird and Animal Sacrifice act Odisha will surly stop the cruelty towards animals. A mother goddess never wants its child to be sacrificed. Let's celebrate it with symbolic sacrifices with coconuts, betelnuts and pumpkins.

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