News

Mumbai's Animals Among Victims Caught in Crossfire of Terror Attack

Multimedia

Audio

In much of India, compassion for animals, large and small, runs deep -- especially with many of Hindu deities taking on animal form.  Last month's terror attack in Mumbai took a wrenching toll on human life.  But less well-known is the collateral damage of the attack on many of the city's animals.

Many of Mumbai's stray dogs are brought to a kennel, at the city's Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw animal hospital, a charity hospital mainly for stray animals wounded by street fights with other dogs or hit by cars.

But, on the first night of the terror attack, one of the dogs shot by the attackers was brought there.  It was a stray dog hit by a stray bullet as gunmen battled with police at the city's main railway station.  As bystanders rushed in to carry out the dead and the wounded people, a local newspaper photographer, 28-year-old Shripat Naik, spotted the dog in the station's foyer, bleeding, dazed and shaking.

"Everybody was frightened by that time, so nobody was going to help him," he said. "Everyone was frightened. They just told me that he was long dead so why bother.  So I just took him along with me and admitted him into the hospital."

Hospital workers here have named the beige-colored pooch "Sheru," Hindi for Lion-Heart.  For them, Sheru has become a symbol of hope in this tragedy.  His prognosis? He is expected to recover, the bullet having passed through his shoulder.

That is according to the hospital's lead veterinarian, Dr. J.C. Khanna, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Indian army.

Millions of stray animals, especially dogs and cats, but also cows, roam the streets of Mumbai, almost seamlessly woven into fabric of urban life in India.

Dr. Khanna says it is not surprising that some of these animals were killed, wounded and traumatized during the three-day siege in Mumbai, as the gunman rampaged through the city, spraying machine-gun fire and hurling grenades.

"You see, everyone is crying and worried for the human being, human life," said Dr. Khanna. "Nobody has yet thought about the animals, how much they have undergone trauma, physical and psychological.

In the assault, three trained rescue dogs were killed.  The city's police and fire departments gave them funeral honors.

Of the hundreds of pigeons that have become scenic fixture in the square between the Gateway of India and the Taj Hotel, where the gunmen made their last stand, Dr. Khanna says at least 25 were killed and dozens more wounded as stray bullets, bomb blasts, shrapnel and thick black smoke filled the air.   He says rescuers tried to save a fruit bat wounded in the attack.

"Ultimately, it is an ecosystem," said Dr. Khanna.  "Everyone is connected to each other.  If animals are not there, we are not there.  So one must care for living creatures whether it is an animal or a human being."

By the end of the siege, the pigeons at the Taj had all but disappeared, adding to the anguish of many who saw them as a blessing.  In India, pigeons are symbol of peace.  Within three days after the attack ended, they had returned.  That, along with Sheru's recovery, are hopeful signs for many here that Mumbai is returning to normal.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs