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Assam ups vigil to check dog smuggling

Jorhat, March 30: The authorities in Assam have increased vigil along National Highway 39, which connects the state with Nagaland, to check smuggling of dogs to the neighbouring state where dog meat is considered a delicacy.

“It’s election time and there is big demand for dog meat in Nagaland where feasts are held in villages and in which the meat is looked forward to. As such we have increased vigil along the highway to check smuggling of dogs from Assam to the neighbouring state,” said Arup Ballab Goswami, honorary wildlife warden of Golaghat district.

Election in Nagaland is considered a time for feasts and merry-making and sources said village councils play a significant role in deciding the fate of candidates.

“More often than not, these councils decide who the villagers should vote for. It’s a collective decision and once taken it is expected to be adhered to by the villagers. The entire exercise also involves a lot of community feasting as candidates do their bit to woo votes,” a source said.

There are also reports of a large quantity of liquor being smuggled to Nagaland from Assam, as the neighbouring state is officially dry.

Sale of dogs in Nagaland is brisk business but the supply remains insufficient. Thus, dogs from Assam are illegally sent to Nagaland. Buyers from Nagaland arrive at villages in Assam and buy dogs at prices between Rs 200 and Rs 500 each, depending on the health and build. Sources said a single dog could fetch a price as high as Rs 2,000, especially during festivals.

Till a few years back, it was a common sight to see rows of dogs, tucked in gunny bags, kept on the side of the highway near Dimapur along the Assam-Nagaland border checkgate as owners awaited vehicles to load the consignment for onward journey.

Goswami said there has been a drop in smuggling of dogs in recent times following steps taken by Assam police after wildlife activists raised a hue and cry. “But dogs still get smuggled to the neighbouring state and this increases during festivities,” he added.

Goswami said smuggling of dogs, a big racket, was punishable under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Nagas are voracious meat-eaters and dog meat is just one of the delicacies. The daily market at Kohima throws up a wide array of meats, from the ubiquitous chicken, pork, beef, squirrel to frogs and what have you.

Nagaland will go to the polls on April 9 to elect its single representative to the Lok Sabha.