Shaktiman, the Uttarakhand police horse which was attacked in a BJP rally in Dehradun, passed away at 5.30 pm on Wednesday, reports say. Allegedly attacked by BJP legislator Ganesh Joshi, Shaktiman's leg had to be amputated to prevent the gangrene in his body from spreading.
Ganesh Joshi who was accused of attacking Shaktiman at the rally, was arrested after a nation-wide outrage over the incident. The BJP MLA is out on bail.
"Shaktiman was injured on March 14 after which we had to operate on him. He was later fitted with an artificial leg. But he was unable to fully recover from an infection," SSP Dehradun Sadanand Date said.
"Though the artificial limb was put on Shaktiman, it was not working well and he was putting his entire weight on the other leg. That is why the infection spread. Today also a lot of care was taken and about eight doctors attended to the horse. It is sad that we could not save him," R S Meena, IG Law and Order, Uttarakhand, said.
Shaktiman was a well trained horse and part of Uttarakhand Mounted Police for years.
"The horse passed away at 5.30 PM. He was suffering from medical-related complications. The exact cause will be known only after post mortem," IG Garhwal Sanjay Gunjyal said.
Speaking to reporters, BJP State President Ajay Bhatt said, "When Shaktiman was operated, he was made to stand continuously. He did not get adequate rest."
"Ganesh Joshi was actually hitting the ground, you cannot pin him for Shakitman's death," Bhatt added.
Speaking to CNN News 18, Nikunj Sharma from Peta, said "I would say its a black day in animal rights. He beat the horse, his leg was amputated and now he's dead. The law has to be strengthened in a way that anyone who injures or kills an animal deserves stringent punishment. We call for a strong law today"
Many had argued that Shaktiman should be euthanised because of the pain and discomfort as he struggled to get used to his prosthetic leg.
Expressing shock over the demise of the horse, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat said,"It was a brave soldier of Uttarakhand and died while performing its duty."
Rawat said at one stage in recent weeks it appeared that the horse was getting well and trying to stand.
BJP's Shaina NC said this was not an issue to be politicised. "It is the loss of life of an animal," she said, adding animal lovers across the country feel that a wrong has been done. "I think we all need to own this up at our own end," she said.
Animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi said, "Shaktiman died the same day when it was attacked and its leg broken. Horses with such weight have very little chance to live on three legs. We were mentally prepared for this but political parties are playing blame games."
According to a report in NDTV, 13-year-old Shaktiman was not responding to the prosthetic leg that Jamie Vaughan, who runs an NGO for veterinary care in Bhutan, brought from the US. The report further added that Shaktiman spent the last few days under the care of a group of policemen in Dehradun.
The officials taking care of the horse said that Shaktiman had stopped eating after the operation. A team of ten doctors had carried out the surgery on Shaktiman, said a report in The Hindu.
When intercepted by police near Rispana bridge on way to the state assembly during a protest march yesterday, BJP workers tried to jump over the barricades prompting security personnel, including the mounted police, to swing into action to control the protesters.
This enraged Joshi who allegedly began hitting a 13-year-old police horse named Shaktiman with a stick, causing fracture in one of its hind legs.
Neha Joshi, the BJP MLA's daughter, claimed many television channels have proved that her father did not harm the horse in any manner. "He has regretted the incident involving the mob," she said.
After news about the horse being injured during protests by BJP spread, Chief Minister Harish Rawat visited the stable located at the police lines where it has been kept for treatment.
"Political workers must learn the value of restraint and tolerance. It seems the word tolerance does not exist in BJP's dictionary," Rawat had said.
With inputs from PTI