Over fears of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Lower Dibang Valley district in east Arunachal Pradesh, and the East and West Siang districts in the central parts of the State are faced with a new problem. Many villages are hanging carcasses of dogs and animals to scare away evil forces. The districts’ administrations issued a strongly worded order on Wednesday.
“It has been observed that certain sections of people in different villages and localities…are practicing social taboo by erecting gates and hanging the carcass of dogs and other animals on National Highways, link roads etc. to ward off diseases…” noted the order by Mitali Namchoom, Deputy Commissioner, Lower Dibang Valley. She told The Hindu that this was a “traditional ritual” in the area.
Her order said that the killing and hanging of animals was a “nuisance” and may trigger “health hazards”. The order noted that the violators would be booked under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
On the other hand, the Galo Welfare Society (GWS), a registered citizens’ body for Galos, one of the State’s influential tribal communities, issued a statement saying “local rituals” had been performed in West Siang district on Wednesday. The Galo community mainly resides in West Siang and Lepa Rada districts. Such rituals are usually performed in the villages “to fend off epidemics or diseases and following such rituals, people are discouraged to go out of villages,” said a local resident. GWS has imposed restrictions on the movement of the villagers.
Anticipating large scale animal sacrifices in adjacent East Siang too, Deputy Commissioner Kinny Singh issued an order on similar lines as Lower Dibang, asking locals to refrain from the practice.
In Lower Dibang Valley administration has introduced a localised arrangement to avoid the rush to buy daily consumables.
“We told people that every neighbourhood will pick up household consumables at a different time of the day, so that they do not rush, all together. A time table is drawn accordingly and distributed. Importantly, people are following it. Essential things are also available,” said Ms. Namchoom.
The situation is under control and outsiders are largely kept under house quarantine, she said.