As people across the country celebrated the 60th Independence Day in their own different ways, Bollywood actor John Abraham chose to hold an empty birdcage, signifying independence for caged birds.

“Independence Day should spell freedom for all -- humans and animals alike,” says John Abraham.

An ardent supporter of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the actor says: “Birds aren’t meant to learn silly human words or swing in a cage. They are supposed to roam free in the skies and sing songs for each other.”

In tinsel town, John has always been among the first to stand up for the rights of animals, whether that means slapping an errant tonga-wallah for whipping his overloaded horse or stuffing himself into a birdcage to pose for a PETA ad.

Under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is illegal to trap or trade in indigenous birds. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species restricts the trade of foreign birds.

Laws flouted

However, even though India has some of the best laws protecting these colourful and intelligent beings, black markets thrive openly in most parts of the country. One can still find munias being sold at road signals, and quack astrologers stuff parrots into wooden boxes to help them play clairvoyant.

According to PETA, there is no such animal as a ‘cage bird’. All caged birds are either captured or captive-bred.

No bird was born to be in a cage. In the wild, these beautiful beings are never alone, and if separated even for just a moment, they call wildly to their flock mates. Flock-oriented, they preen each other, fly together, play and share egg-incubation duties. Many species of birds mate for life and share parenting tasks.

Madhur Tankha