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Mules in Kedar overworked, beaten, drugged & dying

 Had Reported Over 60 Mules Died In 1st Days Of Char Dham Yatra
Rudraprayag: A check by revealed that equines on the Char Dham yatra's Kedarnath route were being worked to death, flogged and often drugged to make them carry more load and with greater frequency, had earlier reported that over 60 mules had died in the first 20 days of the yatra due to strenuous conditions, as handlers and owners were in a rush to make the most of the unprecedented footfall due to the "backlog" created by two years of the pandemic.
                              SPOT REPORT
After the report, animal husbandry minister Saurabh Bahuguna had sent an advisory to all mule-handlers to spare the animals suc overexertion, but nothing seems to have changed on the ground. Local residents, even some pilgrims, said that the animals were  often "beaten mercilessly with sticks and given narcotics" to keep them going. Many of the animal handlers were finding ways to bypass rules that mandated only one trip on the trek for each equine. The earlier route-before the 2013 floods-had four rest and check-up stops along the way for animals. The new route has none, an official said. "It is a common sight to see the animals slipping, especially on the way down, because of the rains and the terrain. Yesterday, a horse slipped, hit its muzzle on the ground but the handler just hit the animal with a stick so that it wouldn't stop," said Manoj Semwal, a traveller from Rajasthan's Kota.
Officials from the Rudraprayag chief veterinary office (CVO) have now been posted at the beginning of the trek along with police and administration personnel. They are checking registrations and are on the lookout for tired or sick animals.
"We are working hard to keep a check but some cases slip through. Our focus should be on the animals' health but there is a severe lack of personnel. Sometimes we get to know about the death of an animal but it takes up to day to retrieve the body. They are indeed being overexerted," said an official from the CVO office.
Meanwhile, the animal welfare board raised concerns about the spread of Glanders (a zoonotic disease that can affect humans as well). It demanded construction of sheds across the route, quarantine and isolation centres, and mandatory Glanders tests.
They have requested a policy for working equines and want the state to  notify the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, along with Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Licensing of Farriers) Rules, 1965.

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