Dehradun: A horse that has drawn strong emotional reactions after visuals of its bloodied, dangling leg at a political protest were looped by TV channels, is recovering after a five-hour surgery by a team of 10 doctors.
- The horse won't need an amputation, being looked after by 10 doctors
- 'Police shouldn't have brought horse', BJP MLA accused of hitting horse
- In new video, BJP MLA seen charging at a cop with a stick, not the horse
Police horse Shaktiman's leg has been saved, say doctors at Dehradun in Uttarakhand, but it may never completely recover or work like before.
Politics over the horse has taken a bizarre twist with BJP lawmaker Ganesh Joshi, who led the protest during which the animal was wounded, alleging in an interview to NDTV that he is being targeted by rivals and that the "Congress can even get the horse killed to score points."
Mr Joshi is seen in footage appearing ready with a stick to strike at the policeman on the horse and has been charged with animal cruelty in a complaint. He emphatically denies hurting the animal.
"The horse is very old...what happened to it was an accident," Mr Joshi told NDTV.
"I was holding the stick because the horse stepped on one of our workers and the worker is now hospitalized. The police shouldn't have brought the horse," he insisted.
The argument may not wash with union minister Maneka Gandhi, a passionate animal rights activist, who has reportedly urged her BJP leadership to expel Mr Joshi "without delay".
The animal is recuperating at the police lines, looked after by a large number of policemen. No one is allowed near Shaktiman; on Tuesday, a stream of visitors to see the horse included politicians like Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who said that the horse would be treated like a "wounded soldier".
"Tolerance is not in the BJP's dictionary," Mr Rawat said after visiting the horse on Tuesday night.
Videos that have emerged since the incident show that while the BJP lawmaker did lead supporters in a charge at policemen, hitting out repeatedly with the stick, he did not strike the horse.
The 13-year-old horse has been a prized trophy of the mounted police for 10 years. It has been a part of police ceremonial parades since it was a three-year-old colt.
Shaktiman's leg may never be completely fine. "His multiple fractures were fixed using an external fixator, which is used for humans. He is a 700 kg animal, so if he put his weight on the leg, it will break," said a doctor.