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Indian snake charmers urged to switch to fakes

Published Jul 20, 2012 10:57am


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Snake on the ground—AFP Photo
Snake on the ground—AFP Photo

NEW DELHI: Animal rights group Peta on Friday called on India's snake charmers to use fake reptiles during an upcoming serpent festival and spare the animals their annual torture.

The Indian unit of US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said snakes were abused during the annual Naag Panchami festival, which is celebrated in honour of a Hindu serpent god and is scheduled for August 30-31.

Peta claimed snakes were cruelly captured in suffocating bags, kept in tiny boxes, starved or forced to drink milk. Their teeth are often violently torn out, and many snakes' mouths are sewn shut, it added.

“There is no place in a civilised society for yanking snakes' teeth out and sewing their mouths shut,” Peta India campaign coordinator Chani Singh said in a press statement.

“Peta India is calling on snake charmers to rein in this egregious abuse by using fake snakes for God's sake,” Singh added, saying that realistic plastic or rubber snakes could be used instead.

Peta's statement was swiftly condemned by the Bedia Federation of India, a non-profit agency which represents the nomadic snake charmer community.

“How can Peta accuse us of torturing and abusing snakes? We worship snakes, we would never want them to suffer and die,” Raktim Das, the general secretary of the federation, told AFP.

Das said the call by Peta was nothing short of a publicity stunt aimed at making life more difficult for their 800,000-strong community which had been “living a life of penury” in the wake of strict wildlife laws.

“Our livelihood has been snatched from us. There is no alternative employment opportunity for us. Where do we go and what do we do to earn a living?” Das said.

The snake charmers have long been a favourite with tourists in India but the practice was proscribed under wildlife legislation implemented in 2002.

The Naag Panchami festival goes ahead regardless, with devotees worshipping snake pictures, idols or in some cases live serpents.

A small number of charmers can still be spotted around major tourist sites in places like New Delhi, risking arrest as they cajole foreign visitors into taking a snapshot for a small fee.


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Comments (9) Closed

The Skud Jul 25, 2012 08:56am
Yes, but that would be admitting they are at fault ... they just want to complain and carp about things wthout acknowledging any consequences.
KhanChangezKhan Jul 21, 2012 10:54am
You are just talking about Gujraat without thinking for the whole Indian States. Not only snake charmers but also some other poor people who are unable to provide 3 times bread for their hunger children have to depend such kinds of earnings. These people are not violating any rights of animals and they are being forced to do it because they are poor and are unable to bring 3 times breads for their children. Can you tell me that how many people of total population are job less in India? Have you ever seen those poorer who look foods in the garbage to survive themselves?
Arun Jul 20, 2012 02:43pm
Perhaps PETA should donate the fake reptiles and compensate the charmers who lose income as a result. That would show PETA's commitment to their cause and help the snake charmers.
gazoomartian Jul 20, 2012 02:25pm
Can Dawn please post snake charmer video for a snake preview? .... heheheheheh
Muhammad Jul 21, 2012 11:30am
In Pakistan too there are ignorant people who play with animals cruely and make a living. Several people hunt animals for sale or export or for sale of its products. This is inhuman to reduced fauna and flora inveiw of vanished jungles and forests due to huge urbanizationa and developments by people and authorities. Proper education and media campaigns are must to eradicate opression of animals and allow our future generations meet and see live flora and fauna which God has made a part of life chain on our earth.
Prakash Jul 21, 2012 03:51am
I am from Mumbai; a city that attracts many for their livelyhood, I have NOT seen any snake charmers there at all !! In Gujarat snake charmers are given free housing, free computers to youth and jobs so they could earn otherwise
Prakash Jul 21, 2012 03:54am
I am from Mumbai & we hardly see any snake charmers, as in Gujarat state they are given free housing and jobs to make their livelyhood
Mehboob Jul 21, 2012 07:57am
Good Job by NADRA - kEEP IT UP - When will the Smart National identity Cards would be issued to thepublic??
muzammil raza Jul 23, 2012 06:18am
how cruelly we the frecious human beings treat the animals just to make profits.....