The Election Commission of India has issued a directive to the general secretaries and presidents of all recognised political parties to avoid “torturing” animals in their enthusiasm to grab eyeballs during election campaigns.

In a release here on Wednesday, the commission said that it had received representations alleging that animals such as horses, ponies, donkeys, elephants, camels and bulls were subjected to cruelty during election campaigns.

“It is alleged that the animals are often made to carry loads beyond permissible limits, made to work long hours and some candidates even paint slogans and election symbols on animals using harmful chemicals,” the release said.

Invoking Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution that calls for compassion for living creatures as well as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the commission advised political parties and their candidates to “refrain from using any animals for election campaign in any manner”. But if their use is unavoidable, the parties should at least ensure that the animals’ rights are not violated.

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