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Fights against illegal slaughter in Chennai
Arun Prasanna of the People For Cattle In India (PFCI) talks about animal rescue and the challenges organisations like his face
How did interest in animal welfare begin?
I have been an animal loving person from a very young age. I volunteered with the Blue Cross of India for a few years. While I was pursuing my degree in Coimbatore, I used to regularly travel a long distance and would see the transportation of cattle for slaughter. In 2008, I got a chance to do a documentary about the same by just following the trucks. While I shot about 230 such trucks, the film failed to make any impact, as it was merely used for a political agenda. That experience hit me hard.
What led to the formation of PFCI?
Later in 2012, as I was travelling to Coimbatore from Chennai with my mother, I saw trucks with buffaloes being transported. I turned the other way and my mother said, “you know what is happening, why don’t you do something about it?” She gave me the strength and motivation and we stopped it and managed to rescue the animals and send them to Vellore. In a few months, I carried out a second rescue with about 80 volunteers, people from all backgrounds, of 1,200 cattle being illegally transported to slaughterhouse. Rescue doesn’t end your work. You must follow it up, get FIRs filed and ensure courts keep the animals safe because, for those involved in the cattle smuggling, it is easy to claim innocence and say they were taking the animals for farming.
What are the risks faced and challenges?
When we tried to recuse 21 pregnant cows in Madhavaram, I and other volunteers were attacked by a huge group of butchers. So far, I have pursued 50 such cases and filed 50 FIRs. I consider the ban on camel slaughter in the state as a huge achievement and have been instrumental in closing 1,400 shops in the city that have been illegally killing animals in their backyard. It is an emotionally draining experience and when you look into the eyes of the animals you rescue, you are motivated to do more.