People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India on Monday released a video footage recorded at wet markets across the country revealing dog slaughter, wildlife-meat trade, and shockingly filthy conditions.
A wet market is a marketplace selling fresh meat, fish, and other perishable goods. The Animal rights organisation has demanded immediate closure of these illegal markets to prevent onset of another pandemic.
PETA has sent the letter to the ministers of Health and Family Welfare, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries urging them to shut down these cruel and dangerous operations immediately.
The footage shows men at Delhi's Ghazipur Murga Mandi slitting live chickens' throats, skinning the birds, and sorting through their flesh soaked in blood and guts with their bare hands - as well as bags of live, struggling crabs and eels at a fish market in West Bengal's Malancha.
The organisation said that it is in violation of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; and Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
PETA further stated that captured dogs were killed and sold for meatAat the Keera Bazaar in Dimapur, Nagaland. Even though it has recently decided to stop dog-meat sales, the illegal trade continues in other states.
In Manipur, sellers at the Nute Bazar handled the charred remains of wild animals including monkeys, wild boars, porcupines, and deer - and at Churachandpur market, meat from various wild animals is sold.
"The next deadly virus will be just around the corner as long as filthy 'wet markets' filled with raw meat and sick and stressed animals are permitted to operate," says PETA India Vegan Outreach Coordinator Dr. Kiran Ahuja, calling for the closure of "Petri dishes for pandemics".
COVID-19 is widely believed to have first infected humans at wet markets in China through wildlife, though one theory links the disease to factory-farmed pigs.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, PETA has called on authorities to close down all such live-animal meat and wildlife markets and follow the lead of China, where there is a plan to phase out live-poultry markets due to risk of disease spread.
SARS and various deadly bird flus, including H5N1, which has a 60 percent mortality rate in humans, have been linked to Chinese live-animal meat markets, too.
Indian chicken farms are periodically plagued by bird flu. Other diseases which can infect humans - including MERS, swine flu, and even HIV and Ebola - were also traced back to animals.