“Survival of the Fittest” often tends to become the (mis)guiding principle for human beings. In the quest of superiority as a species, we often lose compassion towards other co-species. We become so blinded by our needs that we develop an attitude of making use of animals and other species on Earth for our egocentric purposes.
Dipala Chauhan, a headstrong lady from Himachal Pradesh, has been fighting this merciless, greedy lot for years now. She visited Pujarli, a remote village tucked away 110 kms in the hilly hinterland of Shimla, to take care of her ancestral property. What initially seemed as a paradise nestled on this bare Earth showed its horrendous face, a couple of months later. This village, masked with its simple ways, had an apathetic proclivity of an inhumane behaviour towards animals.
“I saw the legs of unwanted cows and bulls being chopped off and they being thrown off a mountain. Dogs were brutally bashed and tied to wires, to safeguard the apple orchards, in the hot sun and cold nights without shelter or food”, says Dipala.
Witnessing such horror, Dipala decided to live her life in the village, serving and helping the animals in need. “Cruelty towards animals is just a way of life here and it is unimaginable and shocking. Nothing but money matters to the people here who have huge disrespect for nature or everything apart from themselves,” she mentions.
This cynicism of Dipala is not completely unfounded. Although working relentlessly for the safety of animals for the past 25 years, Dipala has always faced a huge wall when it came for receiving support. She made courageous efforts of presenting this issue in front of the government, offered a land, tried forming an NGO and created awareness in the community for 8-10 years in a row. However, she has received no support from the people. She also approached some politicians to seek their help in the cause but her voice fell on deaf ears. At one point, she ran out of funds for buying fodder for the cows and the villagers left the forest grass inaccessible to her and thus, she was forced to carry them to centres run at Delhi and Chandigarh. Mrs. Dipala’s daughter-in-law also joins her whenever she is with her in the village.
Once, her house was destroyed in a fire. She pleaded to the villagers to at least help some animals in need. But no help came her way. She had to live with the animals under a tarpaulin for a month. But, Dipala valiantly says that her fight for the protection of these animals will never be over, no matter what the circumstances. Her shelter takes care of more than 100 animals with animals like cows, dogs, goats, mules, horses and bulls in the stable. And despite handling the care of so many animals on her own, Dipla works with ease and happiness. Her work stands as a testament of how, one ‘common’ individual, no matter what the circumstances, can change the lives of hundreds and show us that every life matters.
NAZNEEN KACHWALA & KRITIKA VIDYARTHI | TOC
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