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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs