The latest bizarre videos doing the rounds online is that of a Hindu priest offering flowers and performing rituals in front of a cobra. A few Hindu priests, an old couple seated on chairs for whom the puja is being done, and a snake charmer are seen in the 13-minute video. One of the priests has since been arrested.
The video was circulating on WhatsApp when it reached Chennai-based animal rights activist Shravan Krishnan. Shravan immediately sprang to action and lodged a complaint with the District Forest Officer of Cuddalore on May 14. He also shared the video on Facebook, which then went viral on the social network as well.
â€śSnakes are handicapped, misunderstood creatures. A snake hooding up is a sign of defence. They donâ€™t do that unless they feel threatened. You can clearly see that the animal is being tortured in the video,â€ť says Shravan.
Snakes are also protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, Schedule II, Part II. It is therefore punishable by law if someone were to hunt or hurt the animal.
Shravan also explains that the cobra in the video had been defanged and that this procedure can be extremely painful for the creature. â€śOnce defanged, the snake will die a very painful death in the next few weeks, either due to some infection or because to starvation. It is illegal to do this to snakes.â€ť
Cuddalore DFO took immediate action and the priest seen in the video, identified as one Sunderasan belonging to Aanaikuppam in Cuddalore was arrested on May 16.
The priest was allegedly performing rituals to celebrate the 80th birth anniversary of his parents. As part of the ritual an elephant, also protected by wildlife protection laws, was also brought in, in addition to a horse and a cow.
The forest officials, headed by DFO E Rajendran, are currently on the look-out for the snake charmer, who is on the run, and a man named Palani who was the point of contact between the snake charmer and the priest.