Snake charmers urged to use fakes
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has called on India's snake charmers to use fake reptiles during an upcoming serpent festival and spare the animals their annual torture.
The Indian unit of United States-based Peta said snakes were abused during the annual Naag Panchami festival, which is celebrated in honour of a Hindu serpent god and is scheduled for August 30 to 31.
Peta claimed snakes were captured in bags, starved or forced to drink milk. Their teeth are often torn out, and many snakes' mouths are sewn shut, it added.
"There is no place in a civilised society for yanking snakes' teeth out and sewing their mouths shut," Peta India campaign co-ordinator Chani Singh said.
Peta's statement was condemned by the Bedia Federation of India, a non-profit agency which represents the nomadic snake charmer community.