Russian circus animals killed in fire during controversial visit to India
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2005:
MUMBAI–Seven trained Siberian huskies, seven cats, and four
sea lions belonging to the financially struggling Rosgoscirc circus
died in an April 5 fire at the Chitrakut Grounds in the Mumbai suburb
of Andheri West.
Animal Welfare Board of India representative Bhavin Gathani
alleged that the fire was an arson, but that suspicion lifted after
animal caretaker Jasmin Shah and Chitrakut Grounds manager Rajvir
Dhillon confirmed that the $200,000 insurance policy on the animals
had expired two days earlier. Dhillon attributed the blaze to a
Colonel J.C. Khanna of the Animal Welfare Board of India and
Mumbai PETA representative Anuradha Sawhney on February 5, 2005 won
a stay on Rogoscirc performances with a petition to the Bombay High
Court alleging that the circus was operating in violation of Indian
animal welfare laws.
In mid-March, wrote Surojit Mahalanobis of the Times of India
News Network, “The court accepted the Rosgoscirc plea that the
Indian laws for animal use in circus shows apply only to Indian
animals, and not to foreign species.”
While Khanna and Sawhney contemplated an appeal, Plant &
Animal Welfare Society activist Nilesh Bhanage leafleted against the
resumed circus performances. On March 27 the circus closed,
ostensibly for a two-week break.
“Mysteriously, the circus organisers, an Assam-based event
management company called Choice Events, disappeared after the shows
were discontinued,” the Times of India reported. Choice Events
representatives Atif Ali and D.K. Kumar reportedly owed more than
$100,000 in connection with bringing the circus to Mumbai.
The Russian cast remained with the animals.
“The animals were an integral part of our troupe. We are
incomplete without them,” actor and singer Almar Rajsur told the
Times of India.