One-woman army’s fight for animal rights

Sunny Dua
THE ART EFFCET: Anatole France, a French poet, journalist and novelist had said and I quote, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains un-awakened.” This is exactly what Devinder Kaur Madaan popularly known as Rumpy Madaan is doing in this ‘City of Temples’ for the past over two decades making not only the pet lovers or commoners but even the government understand how animals need to be loved, cared and provided with their rights. There had been thousands of pet lovers in this city but organising animal welfare had never been a job volunteered by anyone.
People in Jammu and Kashmir had been keeping pets since ages. While these people had been getting their pets registered with Municipal Corporations as law demanded, participating pets in annual shows, consulting doctors for better treatments and even adopting street dogs but making government accountable in a manner that ‘cruelty against animals’ ends,never remained on anyone’s priority list. Animals like horses, cows, dogs and cats in several areas are not treated well, abandoned, indulged in fights, kept and condemned or even put before carts in ailing conditions is something which our eyes don’t see. Ms Madaan has volunteered to stand alone and fight for animals’ rights against such odds.
In her this fight against system, from which she’s seeking action against those treating animals badly, demanding cattle pound for stray or abandoned animals or wanting government to make stringent laws it’s a One-Woman Army fighting for animal rights. However, in her tirade the only person she banks upon and refers to as messiah of speechless animals is advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmad who is contesting cases in the court of law get animals treated well.
“Without the efforts of Sheikh Ahmad who’s fighting cases in the court of law for voiceless animals my fight against cruelty couldn’t have reached a stage where we have been able to get a huge chunk of land earmarked for stray animals which the JMC is now developing into a full-fledged cattle pound”, she revealed. Senior vice president SPCA Jammu, honorary animal welfare officer for AWBI and chairperson ‘Save Animals Value Environment’, Ms Madaan during her growing years used to feel for street dogs but being a little girl couldn’t do much for them as well.
“Certain misconceptions and myths about dogs passed on to me by elders also made me feel scared of street dogs”, she recalls saying her first pet dog however taught her the meaning of selfless love, bonding and unconditional trust that animals show in us all.Her life was changed forever when she, after spotting an injured dog lying on hot macadamised road in peak summers waiting to die, took him to the vet but couldn’t find any place to admit him for recoveries. It was then she realised that Jammu needs not only shelter for animals but also an organisation that would help.
“It was at that hour when I decided to work for animal welfare and ensure that no animal dies on road for want of medical aid”, she said. This was a turning point in Madaan’s life and ever since then she had been feeding animals, confronting people for ill treating their pets, bringing many abandoned dogs home and treating them happily. Her passion grew so strong that she later hired a home in Haji Basti,Chowadi and started keeping injured animals there for better treatment and care. However, when people, without lending any helping hand, started dumping their pets or stray animals in the shelter, objection by the neighbours made her abandon the place.
Despite all odds Madaan ensured that critically cases are brought home and others get some adopted on army posts before abandoning the property. “It was painful”, she recalls. Later with the help of the then Divisional Commissioner Shant Manu and Deputy Commissioner, Jammu Ajit Sahu she got the SPCA Roop Nagar functional. She rendered a helping hand to JMC in building and upgrading the facility where all animals including dogs, cows, horses and even birds were bought for treatment free of cost. This encouraged the animal lover lady to work more vigorously and ensure that every district gets such facility.
A society by the name ‘SaveAnimals Value Environment’ was then got registered in 2014 and ever since then a proactive approach has been adopted to work for animal welfare. The society now holds medical camps, awareness camps/workshops and also rescues animals. Devinder burnt midnight oil and studied animal laws persistent in other states which enabled her to file multiple suits in the court of law seeking constitution of Societies for Prevention of Cruelty towardsAnimals (SPCAs) in all the 22 Districts of the State.
This was just a beginning and later the Society brought to the notice of government illegal dairiesrunning within the limits and ill treatment being meted out to animals in these dairies.
The Society being run by Madaan has also filed a PIL seeking regulation of slaughterhouses/meat shops in J&K so that slaughtering of animalsinside meat shops and city lanes can be stopped. Today JDA has allotted land and JMC is building infrastructure for animals at Jagti. Initially Rs 10 Crore have also been allocated for creating facilities.
Today Devinder Kour Madaan is looking after about twenty dogs, five horses and three male calves and a cow in her private property. She never leaves any opportunity in not treating animals seeking medical aid on the streets. ‘Being the company of animals not only lower your blood pressure and raise your happiness but also leaves an effect in a way that it prevents illness and heal the heart’, she believes and said that loving animals is an art that’s either inborn or develops while caring for them.
Her programme about making society aware of rabies, adopting preventive measures, fight against animal slaughtering in public and especially against illegal trade of wildlife including rooftented turtles, red neck Indian parrots and other birds besides snakes is gaining momentum and she has no plans to rest until all animal welfare schemes are put in place in every nook and corner of the state.