Sunday October 22, 2017

Inhumanity in the name of God: The heinous reality of Nagpanchami and the steps being taken

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Nagpanchami is a festival celebrated all over India, where people worship the Snake God. This eve, where it’s auspicious to even have a glimpse of a cobra and offer it some milk, has a very inhuman and grim reality attached to it. A month before the auspicious day, snake charmers start hunting and capturing snakes and harm them in the most brutal ways. Because watching a snake is considered holy and lucky on this day, snake charmers make a lot of money out of this. But nobody bothers to even think about the painful conditions snakes are kept in.

Snake_in_basketSnake charmers remove the fangs and venom of the snakes for the safety of the people when they are put for public display on the eve of Nagpanchami. Then they stitch the snake’s mouth with a thread so that it does not eat anything, thereby making it hungry and thirsty. Hence offering milk on this auspicious day is an act of forcefully making the snakes drink milk which is not their food at all. Also, the absence of its venom apparatus and other severe infections result in the snake being unable to eat its natural prey or even drink water later. By the time Nagpanchami is over, the snake is extremely weak, severely infected and the snake charmer, after making his money, just throws the snake away, thereby letting it die a very slow and painful death.

Fortunately, with the combined efforts of various NGOs, Wildlife Protection Activists and government initiatives over the years there has been a decline in the number of snakes getting harmed. To protect snakes falling prey to such heinous hands, the Bombay High Court, on July 15, 2014, had banned the capture and exhibition of snakes on Nagpanchami. Citing references to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the court had also rejected Battis Shirala’s opposition to the ban. It also cast aside the town’s contention that the festival was centuries old, pointing out that the gazette published in 1858 had no mention of the festival in the town.

The Friends of Snakes Society, Hyderabad, takes a lot of measures in this regard. The volunteers and activists of this society, a month before Nagpanchami, start searching for the buses and vehicles and scrutinizing the snake charmers and all possible luggage where a snake could be found. If found, the snakes are taken to a veterinary doctor and are given proper medication.

The blind faith in religion and God and the stupidity of people lead to such inhumane acts and create loopholes in the society that allow the snake charmers to indulge in this.

But fortunately, there are measures being taken which are proving effective in saving the Snake God we worship, from the absurdity of how we show our belief and faith; doing so in the name of religious traditions.

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Do Ichhadari Naagins exist for real? Here is what Hindu mythology has to say!

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Ichhadari Naag
snakestone in Vijayanagar. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Indian mythology states that a snake can become Ichhadhari only after living 100 years
  • A ‘nagamani’ can be defined as ‘snake gem’ or ‘snake pearl’
  • Shesha naag and Vasuki are synonymous with each other as Anant

Ichhadhari naag and nagin are one of the most interesting subjects of mythology. Ichhadhari naag and nagin concept is gaining momentum these days owing to the various television serials and Bollywood movies, as most of them are based on this concept. This concept is used as it fascinates large number of people and is an efficient tool for gaining TRP.

King Cobra (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
King Cobra (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ichhadhari naag and nagin are defined as serpent like creatures which can change their form and mask like any other creature. But, these Ichhadhari naag and nagin are more willing to take form of a human. Moreover, Indian mythology states that a snake can become Ichhadhari only after living 100 years.

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According to the Speakingtree.com Website, other most interesting subject that is related to Ichhadhari naag and nagin is ‘nagamani’. A ‘nagamani’ can be defined as ‘snake gem’ or ‘snake pearl’.  Although it is not actually a gem or any other stone, it is unused venom of a snake that turns out into a stone.

Some people also believe that nagamani is formed when rain droplets enters mouth of King Cobra during Swati nakshatra.  It is formed in the hood of king Cobra. Nagamani is said to have blessings of Lord Shiva. However, possessing nagamani is not  easy, as King Cobra never discloses nagamani.

Nagamani is a powerful and  most shining stone in the world. It is moon like pearl with a blue tint in it. It possesses lighting power of 100 bulbs. There are number of the myths regarding nagamani. Prevalent one is that whoever owns nagamani, will have great fortune regarding money, health and fame. It  fulfills all the desires of the person who possess it. According to Puranas, King Cobra will die once it gets detached from Nagamani, said the Speakingtree.com Website.

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Nagamani (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Nagamani Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is a mention of Ichhadhari naag and nagin in Agni Purana. According to it, there are seven worlds beneath Earth – Atal, Vital, Sutal, Talaatal, Mahaatal, Rasaatal and Paataal. Lord Vishnu is also said to live beneath the earth in the form of Shesha Naag. It is believed that Shesha Naag is supporting earth by carrying it on its hood. According to Vayu Purana, snakes and devils live beneath Earth. Vasuki, a great snake lives in Shreetal. Shesha naag and Vasuki are synonymous with each other as Anant.

Various scriptures suggest that nagamani is found in many colors ranging from yellow to white. The stories about Ichhadhari naag and nagin are still prevalent in Rural India. Some people also believe that Ichhadhari naag and nagin exists in today’s world.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

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What’s Wrong with Indian Government? Ask Animal Lovers

People all over the world are asking what is wrong with the Indian government on account of ruthless culling of animals

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Animal cruelty is widely condemned all over the world. Image courtesy: Wikimedia commons
  • 1.5 million people over the world are outraged at the fact that protected animals are killed as vermin by the Indian government
  • About 100 NGOs have urged Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to stop unscientific killings of animals
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that conservation of nature should not be a drag on development

NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for conservation and to project India’s eco-sensitive stance, the government’s call for culling of “vermin” animals has caused a blot on its image abroad, with over 1.5 million people asking ‘what’s wrong with the Indian government’.

“It is distressing to learn that protected animals are being killed and treated as vermin. When laws are disrespected it does damage to the image of any country as one is committed to the rule of law and to protection of species,” Kathy Hessler, Clinical Professor of Law and Animal Law Clinic Director at Lewis and Clark Law School, told IANS. The institute is one of the only centres in the world that teaches animal law.

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About 100 NGOs under Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation have urged Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to stop unscientific and indiscriminate culling of wild species declared as ‘vermin’.

The Indian government has admitted to culling Nilgai, an antelope species, wild boar, and monkeys (rhesus macaque) on the specific request of state governments after terming them “vermin”. The debate has now reached the Supreme Court, which will hear a plea challenging three government notifications that declared these species as vermin.

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Prime Minister Modi, addressing the ‘Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation’ in April this year, had said that “conservation of nature should not be a drag on development and can happen in a mutually complementary manner”.

Though India’s own Wildlife Protection Act-1972 is considered one of the best and inspiring laws in the world, the reports of culling of 250 Nilgai in Bihar, and plans to kill other species, and the Union Environment Minister supporting the move, has shocked international institutes.

Hessler says the Indian government should seriously explore alternatives.

“We also recognize that human-animal conflicts cause real damage, but it needs to be prevented and managed better with the interests of all in mind,” she added.

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About 100 NGOs under Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation have urged Prakash Javadekar to stop unscientific and indiscriminate culling of wild species. Image courtesy: Economic Times

Javadekar has said there are laws that support culling. But experts disagree.

“Under section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act, certain animals could be declared vermin. But it never says that killing is to be the first solution. In the case of Nilgai, it seems that the government is not interested in exploring other options, which are easy and require no killing,” Nikunj Sharma of PETA told IANS.

He adds that ever since the debate on culling has arisen, India’s image abroad as a society that has always respected conservation and valued the environment has taken a beating.

“We have been receiving reactions from across the globe. There have been some 15 lakh reactions on our webpage alone. People are asking what is wrong with the Indian government,” he said.

According to Hessler, India needs to educate its public about the value of animals and the need for peaceful mutual coexistence for better functioning of the ecosystem.

Stating that Nilgai and wild boar are part of protected species in India, she said that culling of these animals is proof that laws need to be strengthened.

Kartick Satyanarayan of Wildlife SOS, who is working with ecologists in Alaska on bear conservation, also says that the news of culling of Nilgai has hurt India’s reputation.

“The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is a visionary law. There are case studies on it. Students across the world come here to learn about conservation and people admire India for its pro-wildlife image. But the culling and consideration for more animals to be declared vermin has damaged our reputation,” Kartick told IANS.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96

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Raid on Forest Officer’s House yields Rs 2 Crore in Cash, Gold and Animal Parts in Assam

After being suspended by the State government, Talukdar was produced in a special court

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Seized tiger skin Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Assam Police recovered animal parts, Rs 2 crore in cash and gold from two residences of a divisional forest officer (DFO) of Assam
  • He was initially caught red-handed by the anti-corruption officers while accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000 each from three truckers
  • After being suspended by the State government, Talukdar was produced in a special court on June 14, which has sent him to police remand

GUWAHATI: Assam Police have recovered animal parts including tiger skin, deer skin, ivory, Rs 2 crore in cash and about 1kg of gold jewellery from two residences of a Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Assam.

According to The Indian Express report, Mahat Chandra Talukdar, who has been posted as the divisional forest officer in northern Assam’s Dhemaji since 2014, was initially caught red-handed by the anti-corruption officers while accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000 each from three truckers, who transport forest produce, at his office on June 13.

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“We have arrested him after he was caught while accepting bribe. We raided his house on Monday evening. First, we raided his house in Dhemaji and then in Guwahati. We have seized the amount, his personal vehicles and other documents and bank passbooks. There were allegations against him that he demanded bribe from three suppliers. Investigating the matter, we have caught him red-handed,” said Assam Police PRO Rajib Saikia to Deccan Herald.

Pallet of seized raw ivory in US Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Pallet of seized raw ivory in US Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the next 24 hours, he was taken to Guwahati and his two residences in Dhemaji and Guwahati were raided where the police found the cash, gold and parts of wild animals. Also, the police did not rule out the possibility of him being linked to poachers considering the 89 rhinos who were killed by poachers from 1989-1983 in Kaziranga National Park where he was serving at that time. A rhino horn could be priced for Rs 1 crore in the international black market.

Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said the arrested DFO could not get away. “He has been placed under suspension. We will go hard on all those who are involved in corrupt practices,” she said.

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After being suspended by the State government, Talukdar was produced in a special court on 14 June which has sent him to police remand.

After this case of corruption which was linked to Wildlife, the Gauhati High Court had asked the state government to frame appropriate rules under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, authorizing police to file charge-sheets in cases of wildlife crime.

-prepared by Pashchiema Bhatia, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @pashchiema

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