Monday, 30th October 2017

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Dog meat not a palatable issue

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  • Published 2.12.08

Dogs in Mizoram, it appears, will have to wait for their day.

The political parties, engaged in the crucial December 2 election to the 40-member Assembly, have no thought to spare for canine welfare. They have more “pressing issues” to address in the dog-eat-dog world of politics.

No wonder animal rights activists are fuming at the insensitivity of the parties towards the harmless canines.

Lucy Vanlalruati Hmar of People For Animals (PFA) regrets that most political parties in Mizoram have skipped the issue of environment and animal rights, leave alone the “right” of dogs not to be devoured.

PFA is waging a lone war against the selling and consumption of dog meat in the state.

“No one seems to be bothered that dog meat has given rise to illegal slaughterhouses, many run by Burmese refugees. Besides, children are employed at these abattoirs,” she says.

According to Hmar, at least chief minister Zoramthanga, who has an army of dogs as pets, could have been more sensitive to the canine cause by assuring them of an end to their slaughter if his party returns to power.

Zoramthanga’s ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) insists that it is not averse to ensuring protection to all quadrupeds, domestic or wild. But, animal lovers are not convinced.

Since animals are not voters, political parties tend to ignore the issue of their rights.

As in Nagaland, dog meat is a delicacy for some in Mizoram. Depending on its health, a dog fetches Rs 200-Rs 500 in the state. A kilo of dog meat is cheaper than pork and beef.

The craze for canine flesh, particularly among the low-income group, also abets alcoholism, say animal rights activists. Dog meat invariably undoes the efforts of the Church, the prime force behind prohibition in Mizoram.

“Dog meat, it is believed, goes well with alcohol,” says Hmar. “In a way, the canines, smuggled in, drive the bootlegging industry in Mizoram.”

According to a rough estimate the bootlegging-industry fetches Rs 120 crore annually.

The PFA has already forced the authorities to close down two dog slaughterhouses. But the problems seem to be multi-pronged and beyond the capacity of one organisation to tackle. There are “just too many” unrecognised abattoirs employing “non-local” children, forcing even the Human Rights Law Network to act.

“We have been campaigning hard against child labour and child abuse in Mizoram, but these issues are not on the priority list of those pursuing power,” says Ruatfela Nu, who heads the network.

“When we ensure development, everything will follow,” says a Congress leader, reflecting the general mood in the political circle over the issue.

Till then, the canine inhabitants of Mizoram will continue to die a dog’s death.