India’s north-eastern state of Nagaland has banned the import, trade and sale of dog meat in a move that has been welcomed by animal rights activists who have campaigning for the embargo for years.
The state bordering Myanmar, announced the ban on Friday following s sustained movement by animal rights groups who hailed the decision as a ‘major turning point’ in ending cruelty against dogs in India.
Temjen Toy, Nagaland's senior most civil servant, tweeted: “The State Government has decided to ban commercial import and trading of dogs and of dog markets, and also the sale of dog meat both cooked and uncooked."
He commended the ‘wise decision’ taken by the state’s cabinet, but provided no details on how the ban would be enforced.
Officials from Nagaland’s capital Kohima said animal rights groups intensified their campaign after release last week of a picture on social media of dogs with their mouths tied, stuffed into hessian sacks in a ‘wet market’ in the city of Dimapur.
In response, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisers and US-based Peta submitted yet another petition to the state government demanding an immediate ban on dog meat, which proved successful.
Eating dog meat is illegal in many Indian states, but some tribal communities across the country, especially in regions around Nagaland consider it a delicacy, and serve it with great ceremony.
Meanwhile, Humane Society International which too has been campaigning for years to end India’s dog-meat trade, claimed that some 30,000 canines were annually smuggled into Nagaland and sold in ‘live markets’ after being beaten to death with wooden clubs.
Activists said Nagaland’s dog trade was highly organised, with trappers paid around 50 pence for every animal they corralled, mostly strays from streets in neighbouring states.
Thereafter, the wholesale traders each dog for around £11 to retailers who, in turn, slaughtered them and hawked their meat for a little over £2 per kilo.
“The suffering of dogs in Nagaland had cast a dark shadow over India, and so this news marks a major turning point in ending cruelty in the hidden trade” said Humane Society’s head Alokparna Sengupta.
Earlier, in March nearby Mizoram state, also with a large tribal population, was the first in the region to end the sale of dog meat by amending legislation to remove the animals from the list of animals approved officially for slaughter.