On 6th November 2022, nearly 400 citizens joined a protest march at Powai, an upscale residential neighbourhood located in central Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The animal rights march was to protest against the rise of animal cruelty in Mumbai and the harassment of those animal protectionists that try to help stray dogs and cats. Banners with “harassing feeders is a criminal offence” and “society by-laws do not supersede the law of the land” could be read in the march. In India, animal lovers feeding stray animals are often met with hate and even violence.
Activist Vijai Mohanani of Bombay Animal Rights (BAR), said to The Times of India, “We organise the protest March to support the Nagpur animals & feeders and also our Powai-based feeders, while also creating awareness about shocking cases of animal cruelty.” Activist Karnn R Sharma of Heavens Abode Foundation said that two cases of bestiality had been reported from Powai in the last two years, and cases like these have prompted many citizens to join the march.
The feeder community in most cities in India is largely self-financed and self-organised, but they have to face lots of hostility from locals who say stray dogs and cats are a “menace” and they should not be fed but killed. Feeders often vaccinate stray animals against animal-to-human infectious diseases such as rabies, conduct first aid for those who are ill or injured, and coordinate sterilisation programmes with NGOs or vets. They also collect evidence of criminal animal abuse.