Felled by internal bleeding, suffered since childhood
KATHMANDU, Nepal––If karmic justice occurred in one lifetime, Nepal Animal Welfare & Research Center founder Gita Prasad “Uttam” Dahal would walk onstage at the Asia for Animals conference, to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 3-5, 2017 to receive a standing ovation.
Dahal would be recognized by the assembly, representing close to 150 organizations in 30 nations, for having quietly accomplished more to end the notorious Gadhi Mai sacrifices conducted every five years in western Nepal than all the other delegates combined.
Instead, Dahal is hospitalized, fighting for his life, unlikely even to be mentioned at Asia for Animals because what he did to help end the Gadhi Mai sacrifices was not coordinated with a group strategy seemingly calculated more to raise funds for both Nepalese and international organizations than to actually achieve the collective goal.
“My ambition is to develop animal welfare in Nepal and support as many needy animals as I can in my life,” Dahal told supporters from his hospital bed via social media. “I have been engaged with my organization since 2013. The whole of my life to date has been busy in serving the needy animals wherever I saw them, and I will do so in my rest of life.
“At the age of eight years,” Dahal explained, “my spleen was removed because I had serious bleeding inside my stomach and I vomited blood. My parents are not literate and they trusted what the doctor said. This was in 1994. Since then my immune system has been impaired, and I have struggled for my health,” having follow-up surgeries in 2013 and 2014.
Flown to New Delhi
Recurring internal bleeding on October 13, 2017 sent Dahal back to the Dhulikhel Hospital at Kathmandu University for eight days. He was sent on to the Jaypee Hospital in Noida, New Delhi on October 23, 2017.
Now Dahal is appealing for help from the international animal welfare community to save his own life, but the likelihood of many of the most prominent Asia for Animals conference participants chipping in may be slim.
While many of them conducted high-profile international media campaigns in 2014 based largely on exaggerated allegations, Dahal knew that the Gadhi Mai sacrifices were already illegal and could be ended with an order from the Supreme Court of Nepal.
Dahal at his own initiative filed the requisite court documents and submitted the evidence needed to win the case.
“We have decided to stop animal sacrifice”
Under pressure of the Supreme Court of Nepal injunction, won on November 24, 2014, “We have decided to completely stop the practice of animal sacrifice,” Gadhi Mai Temple Trust secretary Motilal Prasad on July 28, 2015 told the Himalayan Times.
The announcement should mean the end of mass sacrifices held every five years at Bariyarpur, in western Nepal near the Indian border, which have become increasingly controversial since first emerging into media view in 1999.
The Humane Society of the United States and the HSUS subsidiary Humane Society International, among other animal charities that had nothing whatever to do with winning the court case, immediately declared “victory” in fundraising appeals.
Yet when Dahal asked the other organizations campaigning against the Gadhi Mai sacrifices for just $520 to have the order he won from the Supreme Court of Nepal professionally translated into English and notarized, none responded except ANIMALS 24-7, which had already contributed the first $52 in expectation that at least nine other claimants of the “victory” would match it.
Supreme Court order affirmed
Supreme Court of Nepal Justices Ishwori Prasad Khatiwada and Anil Kumar Sinha on August 4, 2016 affirmed the 2014 ruling, ordering the government of Nepal “to form a special committee and take appropriate measure through it to halt the inhuman act of slaughtering animals at Gadhimai,” Supreme Court of Nepal spokesperson Bishworaj Poudel told reporters for the Kathmandu Post and the Himalayan Times.
The two-judge Supreme Court of Nepal bench issued this second ruling in response to a writ petition filed by animal advocate Arjun Kumar Aryal on November 20, 2014, four days before the Supreme Court of Nepal issued the November 24, 2014 ruling in response to Dahal’s petition.
Pursuing the second case became necessary after some Gadhi Mai Temple Trust representatives issued statements reneging on an agreement to stop the Gadhi Mai sacrifices brokered by Humane Society International after the first Supreme Court of Nepal verdict was issued.
Exaggerated history & animal deaths
Boosted by former King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Dev during his brief reign, 2001-2006, the sacrifices in honor of the local goddess Gadhi Mai are commonly said to have originated in the 18th century, but there appears to be no unequivocal written documentation of any such event having been held before 1999.
As many as 2,500 buffalo and hundreds of goats and chickens were killed at the 2004, 2009, and 2014 Gadhi Mai sacrifices, according to analysis of the available photographic documentation. While that by itself was among the largest verifiable sacrificial tolls at any events ever, both the local priests promoting the sacrifices and many of the animal advocacy organizations campaigning against the sacrifices exaggerated the toll of animal lives by as much as a thousandfold.
Beauty Without Cruelty-India exposed fraud
Investigative work by Beauty Without Cruelty-India indicates that the inflated claims about the numbers of animals sacrificed probably started with priests selling each animal multiple times to absentee sponsors.
Activists then swallowed the inflated claims whole, and exaggerated them further to try to drum up global support for protest.
Street dog projects
After the Gadhi Mai campaign, Dahal focused on street dog vaccination and sterilization projects, including at the Pasupatinath Temple, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year.
“Because of unmanaged garbage, a high breeding population of free-roaming street dogs, and good habitat in temple complex,” Dahal told supporters via Facebook, “the scattered dogs have become a problem for the incoming visitors. The Government of Nepal has not considered the rabies risk seriously,” and accordingly has not responded with an effective vaccination and sterization program.
“This has not only caused various problems and suffering in street dogs,” Dahal said, “but also has increased the road accidents, rabies and other zoonotic risks to human life. People hate street dogs because they are scared of rabies transmission and the low quality of services and medicines used in government clinics to treat dog bites. So, they harm the street dogs who come in front of their home and shops.”
Eleven animal charities teamed up
The Nepal Animal Welfare & Research Center, partnering with the Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust and Pasupati Area Development Trust and nine other local organizations in February 2016 sterilized, vaccinated, and provided other necessary veterinary care to more than 150 free roaming street dogs in the temple area, Dahal said.
“During the campaign,” Dahal recounted, “136 female dogs were spayed, six male dogs were castrated, and one female cat was spayed too.”
The participants went on to conduct similar vaccination and sterilization sweeps at other locations around the Kathmandu valley.
But Dahal admitted to ANIMALS 24-7 that much more could be done with adequate financial support.
“I beg for my life”
“I am really frustrated posting appeals and support requests,” Dahal e-mailed. “People don’t trust the reality and run after false things. We are struggling. None are positive in supporting this mission. It will take time for people to understand us well and become convinced we are working hard and genuinely.”
Currently Dahal is appealing for help to pay for his stay in hospital in India to “get better health treatment to overcome the internal bleeding problem,” he summarized to ANIMALS 24-7. All reports and receipts will be uploaded and updated daily,” Dahal pledged, “or as when Internet facilities will be available. I beg for my life with you all! Please help me to live and help other needy animals!”
Donations to help Dahal may be routed via PayPal c/o www.nawrc.org/donate, mentioning “GP’s Treatment”; or by bank transfer or Western Union money order.
Dahal may be contacted directly c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.