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



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.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs