A cruel ritual-mutilate snakes & then worship!
A Cruel Ritual-Mutilate Snakes & Then Worship! 20 snakes were rescued by wildlife activists on Saturday ahead of Naga Panchami.
20 snakes were rescued by wildlife activists on Saturday ahead of Naga Panchami
Wildlife Protection Society and several other organisations working for animal welfare rescued as many as 20 snakes, including seven pythons, from snake charmers in the wee hours on Saturday, a few days before Naga Panchami.
King cobras captured for worship are often ill-treated, defanged and force-fed milk. Their venom glands are removed and mouths are stitched. This illegal activity thrives especially during Naga Panchami.
Around Naga Panchami, which falls on August 1, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau officials and functionaries in various states become alert to undertake rescue operations of snakes which get trapped by snake charmers. The snakes are caught to undertake various rituals for the festival.
Rescuers said that snakes cannot digest milk as it’s not a part of its natural diet. Milk causes severe dehydration, allergic reactions and dysentery among snakes, at times even causing death. But during Naga Panchami, they are fed milk by the public as part of the rituals.
“Venomous snakes, including the Indian cobra, are protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and catching snakes or injuring them is a legal offence punishable under the Act,” said a wildlife official.
Last year, a court in Mumbai directed the government to ensure implementation of Wildlife Act to prevent the capture of cobras, without hurting religious sentiments. It ordered that the word 'hunting' should be defined in Section 2 (16) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in accordance with Article 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) and Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) of the constitution and that permission be granted to observed Naga Panchami without harming the reptile.
The Mumbai court order, which was passed last year, came after a plea was made by a wildlife lover to ban the practice of capturing Indian Cobras for worship, as this violates the Act, which dictates that trapping snakes or even attempting to do so is punishable with imprisonment extending up to three years, or a fine extending to Rs 25,000 or both.
While the worship of live cobras has never really been a tradition in the state, after the 1972 Bangladesh war, several Bangladeshi immigrants who came here adopted the profession of capturing snakes, prompting the worship of live cobras on Naga Panchami.
“If the forest department takes action and NGOs launch awareness drives, such activities would definitely be curbed," said an official from the department.