Shocking Truth: Mules in Kedarnath Drugged and Beaten to Death

Mules death in kedarnath

Thousands of devotees undertake Shree Kedarnath Dham Yatra every year. Shree Kedarnath is one of the sacred Char Dham pilgrimage places in Uttarakhand, India. However, climbing the slopes is a difficult task. The mules in Kedarnath come to the rescue and make the journey easier. 

They navigate tough terrains and steep paths with strength and resilience. Lately, the safety and treatment of the mules have become a matter of serious concern. As per TOI, from 25th April 2023, 16 mules have died in Kedarnath. Around 123 mule owners have been held accountable under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 for exploiting animals.

Mules in Kedarnath

Mules have long been an essential part of the Kedarnath Yatra. They offer logistical support to pilgrims and locals alike. However, in recent years, they have been exploited. Their handlers force them to overwork without giving them breaks. There have been reports of mules in Kedarnath being drugged or even beaten to death. 

Last Year, around 60 mules died in the first 20 days of the yatra due to harsh conditions. Chief veterinary officers (CVO) of Rudraprayag, have been posted at the beginning of the trek to look out for tired or wounded mules. The teams are stationed at different points along the 18-km trek between Gaurikund and Kedarnath. 

So far, close to 100 animals have been found medically unfit. They have been stopped from working. Some of the mules in Kedarnath were either limping or had deep wounds. 
Approximately, 500 mules have been provided treatments in the last 15 days. 

Mules Death in Kedarnath

According to a TOI report, residents have witnessed the mules being beaten mercilessly and given drugs. Animal handlers try to bypass the rule of 'one trip on a trek per mule'. They are not fed properly and are forced to overwork.  It is common to see the animals slip, especially while coming down.

Before the 2013 devastating floods, there were 4 rest and check-up stops along the routes for the mules. However, now there are none. The animal welfare board has raised concerns over the same. They have demanded the construction of sheds across the route. They have also asked for isolation centers and mandatory Glanders tests. Glanders is a fatal disease that affects humans as well. 

Recently, the Rudraprayag district administration stopped the transportation of mules from other districts due to the fear of LSD (Lumpy skin disease). The state has recorded 3000 such cases so far.

Are Mules in Kedarnath Drugged?

Mules in Kedarnath are drugged to overwork. The animal handlers try to numb their senses and make them work harder. 

In a recent viral video, two men were seen forcing a mule to take weed. One person closed the mouth of the mule to force it to inhale the smoke. One of the owners, Rakesh Singh Rawat, from the Guptkashi area has been arrested from the Rudraprayag area. 

Kedarnath mandir is located in the Rudraprayag district. The video has shocked the entire country. The netizens have been sharing their disbelief across multiple social media platforms.

Mule Task Force

A team, consisting of police personnel and officers, is formed to keep a check on mules in Kedarnath. The mule task force is assigned the duty to provide better facilities to the pilgrims during the Shree Kedarnath Yatra. Their task is to ensure that the animals are not mistreated and exploited by their handlers or owners.

The move came after around 350 mules and horses died during the last year. Shockingly, some of the dead bodies were directly thrown into the Mandakini River.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has trained the animal husbandry department staff to ensure the safety of the animals. The shed facilities have been improved, and electric water heaters have been installed. Mule handlers or owners can carry devotees to the temple only once a day.

Around 30 people from Pratigya Rakshak Dal (PRD), have been trained for better handling of mules in Kedarnath.  They are stationed at the 16 km long route from Gaurikund to Kedarnath to closely monitor the working animals. The mule task force members have been trained to protect the animals and ensure they are not exploited. 

They are also allowed to stop any new mule from carrying devotees if:
1) The mule is sick
2) If the mule is old, injured, or is limping
3) If the owner or handler does not have a license 

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