There seems to be no need to the controversy that was kicked up after PETA, the world’s largest animal rights group, put up a hoarding in Lucknow, of a goat urging people not to slaughter it. The poster predictably riled up a set of influential Islamic clerics who expressed their vehement protest over the banner and asked for its removal. The Islamic clerics asserted that the banner showing a goat was deliberately put up in Lucknow ahead of the Muslim festival of Bakrid to target the minority community.
As the controversy continues to snowball, OpIndia contacted the international animal right’s group and sought their response on the matter. We had a conversation with PETA official–Radhika Suryavanshi, wherein we asked her questions about the aforesaid hoarding in Lucknow along with the discrimination meted out to Hindus. We also heard PETA’s side on the allegations made by the Muslim clerics that the banner was deliberately put up to target the minority community. Here is the detailed conversation with Radhika Suryavanshi:-
If not PETA, who removed the hoarding? Are you alleging that police and local administration have pulled down PETA’s banner in Lucknow?
I would like to tell you that the billboard was not removed on PETA’s orders. The agency entrusted with the responsibility of putting up such hoardings informed us that the billboard was removed by a local vendor at the behest of the owner of the site. PETA is firm on its stand that there is no wrong in eating vegetarian food and bestowing kindness on the animals. We have also asked for the re-installation of the said hoarding.
The President of the Islamic Center of India, Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, has asked why such hoardings were placed before the festival of Bakri Eid? Is he wrong? What would you say about this? When was the hoarding installed?
PETA India has conveyed the same message on behalf of all of its Muslim supporters and associates and has also installed similar hoardings in Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. The consumption of goat meat happens on a regular basis, it has got nothing to do with Eid. We want to create public awareness about vegetarianism every day. In fact, the said hoarding is one of our new advertisements endorsing our vegan expedition. There are other posters of chickens, fish and other animals also, that are consumed as meat by people. All these boards have been installed in many cities across the country.
Many organisations such as KFC endorse their non-vegetarian food. These advertisements manifestly supporting the killing and consumption of innocent creatures are also wrong. Then why shouldn’t their posters be pulled down as well?
Athar Hussain of the Director of Center for Objective Research and Development (CORD) has said that Muslims sacrifice goats on the festival of Bakri Eid. The hoarding of PETA is giving the wrong message and we have reservations about it. Muslim community opposes this. What is PETA’s response to this?
All religions give a message of compassion and permit the eating of vegan food. Goats are very sensitive and playful animals. In fact, all animals can feel sorrow and pain just like human beings and they deeply care about their self-preservation. Many people celebrate the festival of Bakri Eid by distributing vegetarian food, donating and helping the destitute. Vegan eating is good for our heart health and helps us to avoid cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other life-threatening diseases.
Is PETA India seeking anything from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in this matter?
It is pertinent to note that as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001, the animals can be slaughtered only in licensed abattoirs. PETA India had earlier requested all the states to take strict measures against illegal transport and killings of animals during Eid.
It is not unusual during Eid that a large number of animals are packed in small trucks to be to transported to slaughterhouses. Often their bones break and many of them die during their journey to the slaughterhouses in cramped trucks. When frightened animals hesitantly walk towards the slaughterhouses, their tail is twisted and broken to force them to move fast. Inside the abattoirs, these animals are slaughtered in open in front of each other by untrained butchers who slits their throat partially and leaves them all to die painfully.
Have you received any threatening emails, phone calls or messages from fundamentalist Muslims? If yes, can you give the details? (In this case or any other case as well)
No, we have not received any kind of threat from anywhere. And we request the residents that there is nothing wrong in talking about compassion for animals or promoting consumption of vegan food. Like all other advertisements, this vegan billboard of ours is just to create awareness among people about the atrocities faced by animals.
How much truth is there in the allegation that PETA India makes a lot of noise on Hindu festivals but keeps mum on the festivals of Muslims?
See, our campaigns are not based on our against any religion. PETA India is not a religious institution and people of all religions are our supporters. We are only against cruelty to animals. This includes misbehaving with animals for their entertainment such as circus, horse racing, bullock racing, hunting, Jallikattu and many other events. We are against capturing elephants and training them for circuses, or in any other festivals. We are also against the sacrifice of animals, regardless of religion.
An elephant is a social animal who should be living in the jungles on the grasses. However, humans hold them in chains on their paved floors made of cement by imprisoning them for their benefits, subjecting them to extreme physical and mental torture. Without adequate food and water, their condition deteriorates. The nails of their feet get dislocated, their soles are cut, their feet become swollen, and they are made to stand amidst their excreta. According to a survey, more than 50 per cent of elephants who die in captivity, die of these reasons.
This animal suffers from severe mental stress because of its imprisonment, lack of opportunities for a social life or not being able to lead a free life, and it can be easily seen when elephants are seen doing the same thing by moving their head around or right. Huh. The chains tied at the feet lacerate their skins. Sharp metallic curbs are used to control them.
Innocent animals are killed not just on Eid but everyday around us. Their throats are slit with sharp-edged knives and they are left to die a painful and agonising death. The only difference is that on the other days, animals are not killed on the streets but in the slaughterhouses. This does not mean that the cruelty on them reduces. Lat year, we inspected the cattle market in proximity to Mumbai’s Deonar slaughterhouse.
The controversy surrounding the PETA poster in Lucknow
A hoarding put up by Animal rights organisation – PETA with a photograph of a goat, urging people not to slaughter it, was removed in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh after Islamic clerics objected to such hoardings.
According to the reports, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) had put up a hoarding in Qaiserbagh, which displayed a huge picture of a goat and read – “Mai Jeev Hoon, Maans Nahi. Hamare Prati Nazariya Badlen, Vegan Bane” (I am a living being and not just meat. Change your view towards us and become a vegan).
As posters were put up by PETA across other parts of the city, Islamic clerics in the city claimed that such posters hurt their religious sentiments.
Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, President of the Islamic Centre of India, had even complained to the Lucknow Police Commissioner demanding the removal of PETA’s hoarding. The Maulana objected to the hoarding by placing a photo of the goat before the festival of Bakrid.
“Bakrid is expected to be celebrated on July 31. Why such hoarding is being put up just ahead of the festival?” the cleric queried. “It seems that these hoardings were deliberately put up in a mischievous attempt to hurt Muslim sentiments,” he added.
Shockingly, two complaints were also registered with the Kaiserbagh police demanding the removal
A letter was also sent by the director of Centre for Objective Research and Development (CORD) Athar Husain.
“Muslims observe ‘Qurbani’ (sacrifice) on the festival. The hoarding is sending out a wrong message, it is objectionable. The community strongly objects to it, “Husain added.