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Animal Rights versus The Human Rights!

By Mohammad Ashraf

22 October, 2015

Indian leaders have always claimed India to be the largest democracy in the world. The very first duty of a democratic republic is to guarantee the right to life of every citizen. Article 21 of the constitution guarantees the life and liberty of a person. “Protection of Life And Personal Liberty. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure adopted by law.” If an act of a private individual amounts to encroachment upon the personal liberty or deprivation of life of other person and if that act of a private individualis supported by the state, the act will certainly come under the ambit of article 21. Article 21 of the Constitution deals with prevention of encroachment upon personal liberty or deprivation of life of a person. The only question is how the state support is given? Whether it is open or tacit! In some of the recent cases it has been both tacit and open especially from important functionaries of the state. The Right to life means the right to lead complete, meaningful and dignified life. It is something more than surviving and animal existence. The fundamental right under Article 21 is one of the most important rights provided under the constitution which has been described as heart of fundamental rights by the Apex Court.

Recently, there have been a number of incidents involving deprivation of the life of some citizens in the most horrific way of lynching and burning by mobs on the pretext of these people having killed an animal or eaten the flesh of that animal. In view of the fact that the individuals and the mobs which indulged in these acts had the covert and overt support of the State, all these acts come under the Article 21 thereby confirming the failure of the State to protect the life and liberty of its citizens. It automatically becomes a violation of the international law as India is a signatory to the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. On December 10, 1948the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted resolution 217 A (III) and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.The former Attorney General of India, Soli Sorabjee called the Declaration a “Modern Magna Carta of Mankind”. According to him, “Human dignity is at the centre of international human rights instruments. Right to life, mentioned in Article 3 of the Declaration, is a basic human right and finds a place in every international human rights instrument and national constitution.”He goes on to define the meaning of life and relevance of all other rights in regard to this basic right as interpreted by various courts and legal luminaries and concludes, “They reveal a single thread and add up to a single right: the right to survive without which the possession of other human rights such as freedom of speech or franchise becomes a cruel joke.”

Thus these gory incidents being orchestrated with virtual silence by the government need to be taken cognizance by International Human Rights protectors such as the United Nations Security Council.The last article (30) in the Declaration of Human Rights states, “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein”.The Indian State itself appears to be engaged in fomenting these gory incidents by pro Hindutva extremists to create situations where the basic rights of the minorities especially Muslims are threatened.

Ironically, there is more concern for the rights of animals like dogs and cows rather than the human beings. Menaka Gandhi had an obsession with dogs. She headed the dog lovers associations and it was again Kashmir which suffered due to dog menace. Hundreds were bitten by these stray dogs. Even young children were not spared. Sometime back there was such scare of stray dogs that no one dared come out of the house during night. However, government did not dare touch these and the culling which had been traditionally going for ages was discontinued.

Next animal on which the present controversy is raging is the cow. Of course all people respect the reverence given in Hindu religion to cow. In fact, the area where the cow is adored in North India is also known as the cow-belt. However, in South India where there is a large population of Christians there has never been any controversy about the cow. People in those areas freely eat beef. India has been the biggest exporter of beef. It is also exporting shoes made from leather all over the world. No one has questioned these commercial activities so far!

It has now been established that the allegation of cow slaughter on the basis of which these gory happenings took place were all made up. Allegedly, there is a pattern behind these happenings and these have full patronage of some of the state actors. Unfortunately, these people do not understand that in trying to make India a Hindu country they may initiate its disintegration! The sustained campaign against minorities in the name of religion is bound to attract not only international attention but possible intervention also. It is the right time for that to happen. Here, the International Community needs to take into consideration these acts before deciding about the permanent membership of the Security Council.

Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired),Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir


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