Amaravati: Authorities in Andhra Pradesh are probing the alleged consumption of donkey meat by some people, believing in myths that it will heal back pain and asthma as well as work as an aphrodisiac.
“Donkey meat is mostly being consumed in the districts of Prakasam, Krishna, West Godavari and Guntur,” animal welfare activist Gopal R. Surabathula told IANS.
He said the meat is on sale every Thursday and Sunday, where even some well-educated folks could be found buying it. At least 100 donkeys are believed to be slaughtered on these occasions.
Saying that the stocks of donkeys have depleted in AP, he said that the people engaging in this trade are sourcing the animals from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
However, Surabathula said that many animal lovers have lodged cases on this illegal trade, leading to vigil on donkey transportation from other states intensifying.
“I have disguised myself and am in touch with the traders,” said Surabathula as he highlighted that a kilogram of donkey meat is being sold at around Rs 600 and being relished by interested people from all communities.
According to the animal rights activist, the habit of eating donkey meat was believed to have originated from Stuartpuram in Prakasam district, which was notorious a hub of thieves at one time.
There was a myth that drinking donkey blood and running for a longtime would enhance the sprinting potential of an individual and that thieves from this place used to indulge in this practice.
In fact, a few negative characters in the recently released Tollywood hit movie, Krack, starring actor Ravi Teja and Shruti Hasan, were also depicted drinking donkey blood and sprinting.
According to Surabathula, some fishermen are also believed to drink donkey blood before going to fish in the Bay of Bengal sea off Vetapalem village coast in Prakasam district.
Surbathula said that a donkey costs between Rs 15,000 to Rs 17,000 and reportedly its hide commands a good price in China.
He shared photographic evidence of open slaughter and sale of donkeys.
Meanwhile, AP Animal Husbandry department assistant director Dhanalakshmi said that the slaughter of donkeys is illegal and confirmed that they received complaints about this trade.
She shared a recent letter from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) about the alleged slaughter and trade of donkey meat at Chirala in Prakasam district.
“In 2001 and 2011, the state government ordered that donkeys should not be slaughtered,” she said, observing that the department received similar complaints a couple of years ago as well about Guntur which did not see a positive end.
However, she noted that this subject falls under the purview of the local bodies. Dhanalakshmi said the Animal Husbandry department will only give technical guidance to the local bodies when needed.
The AWBI wrote to the Animal Husbandry department in January to look into the complaint it received about donkey slaughter in Chirala.
“The board received an email dated January 18 from Animal Rescue about illegal slaughtering of donkeys and sale of donkey meat and blood at an open place in Chirala,” said the board’s secretary S. K. Dutta.
He highlighted that donkey slaughter is a violation of Sections 3 and 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
“It is requested to investigate the above complaint and take appropriate action as per law against the offenders and forward your action taken report to the board immediately to take further necessary action,” wrote the board’s secretary S. K. Dutta.
Meanwhile, calls and text messages to M. Mallikarjuna Nayak, commissioner and director municipal administration to check what action was being taken on this matter, did not elicit a response till the time of publishing.