Shaktiman, the white police horse, injured during a BJP protest in Dehradun led by its Mussoorie MLA Ganesh Joshi, had grabbed the nation's attention ever since photos of its broken, bleeding leg swamped both papers and the internet in India.
The horse, which took the deadly fall on March 14, was lavished with love, medicines, food and treatment by some of the best vets in the country as it put up what can only be called a brave fight for survival.As it hobbled around in painful determination, the stream of visitors and well-wishers never ceased to flow, each coming with a prayer and a little something. Finally , though, that wasn't enough.
As a team of doctors led by Mumbai-based Phiroze Khambatta administered anesthesia to Shaktiman on Wednesday for a minor surgery , the horse never woke up. It died in its hurriedly-built tent as policemen who had seen the graceful animal for years openly wept. “We did everything we could,“ said the Kathiawari horse's rider Ravindra Singh. “But we failed. I have lost a colleague and a friend. I am shattered.“
Soon after it suffered its horrific injury, Shaktiman's left hind leg was amputated. An artificial one was fitted before that, too, was taken off and replaced with a state-of-the art limb brought by Tim Mahoney , a former banker, from the US. Four vets, helpers and 25 policemen were on round-the-clock duty.
In the one month that the horse was going through treatment, it lost about 25 kg, which vets claimed was good as he weighed over 400-kg and that would reduce pressure on its bad leg. Dr Rakesh Nautiyal, among the doctors loo king at the horse, said, “He had been taking food and had showed great power in its efforts to recover. It was nothing less than a miracle that the horse walked out of the enclosure on April 13. We all are in shock.“
As social media erupted in both rage and sadness at the “unnecessary and tragic death“ of an innocent animal-some called it murder -the man charged with the crime, Joshi, said, “It is unfortunate that Shaktiman is dead. But visuals have proved I was not involved in the incident.“ Unwilling to miss an opportunity to score a political point, the MLA added, “I fail to understand why former CM Harish Rawat has been politicizing the issue. Poor medical treatment was given to the horse.All the focus was on targeting the BJP ... The horse could have survived.“ On March 15, a case had been registered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and IPC section 188 and 429 slapped against Joshi and unidentified persons on the complaint of rider Singh.