An Uttarakhand police horse left with a broken limb in a brutal attack allegedly by a BJP legislator, was fitted with a temporary prosthetic leg after the damaged appendage was amputated in an overnight operation lasting over 40 minutes.
Veterinarians said Shaktiman, the 14-year-old horse, will be fitted with a permanent prosthetic leg in a few days and will be “able to lead a normal life”.
Shaktiman became a household name in the country after a video clip appeared showing BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi, arrested on Friday, brandishing a stick and appearing to strike the horse during a protest rally. The incident triggered criticism from activists and rival parties as photographs of the injured animal spread on social media.
The video ends with the horse on its back and apparently in pain with a policeman trying to get it back on its feet. The BJP leader, slapped with three cases of cruelty against animal, denies the charges.
Senior superintendent of police Sadanand Date told HT a team of veterinarians amputated the damaged hind limb of the horse late on Thursday night amid fears of spreading gangrene – a decomposition of body tissues.
“A permanent prosthetic leg will be fixed after a few days. Doctors believe the horse can lead the rest of his life normally,” Date added.
Sources said Shaktiman was “responding” after the amputation and eating normally.
On Tuesday, veterinarians fixed a steel structure on the fractured limb during a surgery that lasted for five hours. They later decided to amputate the leg after failing to restore blood supply to the limb.
Police, however, said the horse will remain with the force despite offers for adoption poured in.
Date said Shaktiman has served Uttarakhand police for 10 years and therefore “police will prefer to keep Shaktiman in his home (stable)”.
Caretaker Shyam Singh Chauhan said the force is hopeful that Shaktiman, now kept in isolation, will soon be able to stay with its partner Aayesha and two “friends” Veru and Shamsher.
Gauri Maulkhi of People for Animals (PFA), a NGO working for animal rights, said it was if police agree, it was ready to keep the horse at their equine centre, the only such facility in Dehradun.
Pressure mounted on police to act after Union minister and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi too called for the MLA’s expulsion from the party.
Amid a political slugfest, Shaktiman has generated nationwide sympathy with social media users demanding strict action against the accused MLA and also his ouster from the party.
“Is there anyway people from other parts of the world can help? I’m raising my hand to adopt him! (sic),” one Anand Siva wrote on Facebook.
A Twitter user with the handle @barmare_yusuf said with sarcasm, “The MLA took the idiom ‘break a leg’ literally(sic)”.