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  Home >> Cleanliness >> Deonar Investigation Report

I. General Information:

Deonar is a municipally owned abattoir within the city limits of Mumbai. The general manager is Dr V. N. Vishnupurikar. There are a reported 1,400 general employees and 18 veterinarians on site, including Dr Hukkeri and Dr Chavarkar, two employees in managerial posts.
Deonar exists on a 64-acre site built in the early 1970s. It consists of an unloading area, a market area, animal-holding areas and slaughterhouses. The abattoir’s business is to slaughter animals on behalf of the city’s meat wholesalers and butchers. The Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) sends inspectors to Deonar for several hours nearly everyday. Individual traders not employed by the municipality, are permitted to bring animals to the market area, sell and purchase them for slaughter. A Jewish butcher, also not employed by Deonar, is permitted to slaughter on the grounds as well. The abattoir also exports meat to the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar, as well as to other countries.
Approximately 500 to 600 cattle, 200 pigs and 5,000 to 6,000 sheep and goats are killed each day at Deonar.  

II. Meat and Leather General Statistical Information: 
According to statistics compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the total number of animals slaughtered for meat in India rose from 66,299,600 head in 1980 to 106,239,000 head in 2000, nearly doubling. This translated to an increase in total meat production from 2,607,702 (Mt) in 1980 to 4,809,200 (Mt) in 2000. There was a rise in the total number of cows and buffaloes slaughtered for meat in India from 15,644,000 head in 1980 to 24,300,000 head in 2000, an increase in total beef and buffalo meat production of 1,673,972 in 1980 to 2,863,400 in 2000.

According to 1999 figures from the CLE, leather sector exports earn some US$1.5 billion worth of foreign exchange per annum, mostly from industrialised countries. Top importers of Indian leather goods are Germany , the US , Italy and the UK according to DGCIS Calcutta. The leather industry handles 230 million hides and skins annually. 

Section Conclusion:

The local and federal governments have the clout, and the Indian industries have the resources, to ensure that animals going to slaughter and at slaughter are treated humanely in accordance with the law. Only the CLE has made any effort in this regard. To date, no changes have come about in training, infrastructure, law enforcement or other areas of serious, daily violations of any reasonable standards.

III. Basic Timeline of Observations:
An excerpt from an account given by a PETA undercover investigator in April 1999 reads, “By the time of our tour at 10 a.m. , there were already more than a dozen downed cattle. Four had broken feet or legs and could not stand. One bull kept trying to raise to his feet but could not put his right front leg down.  He struggled, moving in circles as he tried to get that foot on the ground, until he collapsed under the heat of the sun. This same bull also had a broken horn, nearly half-gone, oozing blood. 

The slaughterhouse veterinarian providing the tour noted that the bull’s foot was broken and that the broken horn was quite painful but made no effort to provide any sort of pain relief to the animal. Some of the downers lay alone, panting, on their sides. Others lay one on top of the other, their heads seeking solace on the bodies of their companions. Many of these cattle had eyes that were swollen and oozing from chilies or tobacco rubbed into them during transport. All the cattle looked at us with pleading eyes, hoping for some bit of water or shade or a kind touch and relief from their pain. Instead, the cattle were left at the unloading ramp until they died or until they found the strength to stand on their own later that day. Those cattle who were able to be sent to slaughter were indiscriminately beaten about their rump, neck and face. These beatings, coupled with the rough treatment of transportation, left many of the cattle with open wounds all over their bodies.”

Another investigator posing as a foreign meat buyer in 1999 noted, “The cattle are slaughtered in one long line, in full view of one another, bound and thrown on the floor.”

In July 2000, PETA paid an announced visit to the abattoir along with veterinarians and representatives of the UK ’s WSPA, HSA, the CLE chair, Mr Mohamed Hashim and other representatives of the Indian leather industry.  Dr Vishnupurikar had been advised of the delegation’s visit one month prior.  The purpose of this visit was to allow WSPA and HSA experts to observe conditions and make recommendations that according to a pledge by Dr Vishnupurikar and Mumbai’s mayor, Mr Hareshwar Patil, would immediately be implemented. Regarding this visit, PETA observed, “It was obvious to all that Dr Vishnupurikar and his staff took special care to clean up the facility as much as possible in an effort to impress the delegation and the CLE. There were no downed or dead cattle in the market, the cattle were slaughtered individually, the lorries were not as overloaded and the Bombay SPCA was present.  While we know that this is not at all representative of the day-to-day activities of the abattoir, we can now safely assume that despite Dr Vishnupurikar’s claims that he does not have any control over the lorry drivers and traders at the cattle market, he actually does.”
On December 8, 2000 , a PETA representative observed the following during an unannounced tour of Deonar, ‘Dr Hukkeri, a Deonar veterinarian, asked his colleague to run ahead of me to warn the others of PETA’s arrival in Hindi, falsely assuming that I would not understand. Despite this, the traders were not successful at hiding the more than 30 downed and dead cattle. The condition of the animals was actually worse than I could have imagined. Several cattle had bloodied or missing eyes, nose bleeds, broken horns and deep wounds resulting from overcrowded and rough transport. All of this was acknowledged but ignored by the Deonar veterinarians. A fruitless effort was made by the traders to cover a lorry illegally overcrowded with cattle. Upon inspection, it was clear that this lorry had already been partially unloaded, yet 14 cattle remained inside, collapsed, roped, unable to move, some dying, all suffering. Children wandered about the unloading area joining the adults in indiscriminate beating, pulling, and kicking of the animals. I documented several instances in which the animals’ tails were twisted and painfully broken. There was no sign of the Bombay SPCA, and even the gate attendants and guards present engaged in the beating. Dr Chavarkar, another Deonar veterinarian, had no concept of ‘emergency slaughter’ and injured animals were kept waiting for hours before being relieved or were simply left to die. When I arrived at the slaughter hall, there were 12 dead and dying cattle strewn across the floor. It was then painfully clear that the manner in which these animals are murdered is in full view of each other, even though special care was taken to slaughter these cattle separately in front of me. The goats were killed in view of each other.”

Section Conclusion:

From these accounts over a period of more than a year and a half, reports that follow years of serious complaints from Indian citizens, there can be no other conclusion but that absolutely no effort has been taken by the Maharashtra state government, the Mumbai municipality, religious authorities or the abattoir management to improve conditions for transport and slaughter in any way. This failure is despite serious consequences the abattoir has already faced, including a pledge from the CLE to advise its members not to purchase skins from Deonar, criticism in local and international media, being identified as one of the chief violators of law whose example was a focal point in decisions by international leather retailers to end their contracts for Indian leather goods (resulting in a loss of approximately US$28 million to the Indian leather industry and thousands of pleas to the Indian government by concerned citizens internationally).

IV. Cruel Transport:

Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs are transported to Deonar by lorry. According to Dr Vishnupurikar, animals can take up to two days in transit before reaching the facility. They come from within Maharashtra and from other states. Cattle also arrive at the abattoir on foot. 

PETA has observed the following: The lorries back into the unloading area onto a concrete ramp that remains unshaded from the hot sun. Cattle are usually removed from the lorries by the use of cruel and unnecessary force, including beating and tail-breaking. Injured animals are left to the side to suffer under the heat of the sun along with the dead. No veterinarians are present during the unloading and no direction is given to the traders to stop abusing the animals. Gate attendants, guards and children within the compound also engaged in beating the animals about the rump, legs, body and face with ropes and sticks. Injuries noted by PETA investigators include broken legs, hooves, and horns; missing and bloodied eyes; broken ribs and hips and open wounds.  Injured animals are ignored by veterinary staff. 

The animals arrive in cruelly overcrowded lorries. Many are dead, mangled and wounded although the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act specifies the space provided per cow should be no less than 2 square metres, and specifically, the national law allows no more than six cattle per lorry.  These laws, too, are ignored.

Records shown to PETA during its announced visit purporting to show that many days pass without any dead animals arriving at the slaughterhouse are belied by observation and even by Dr Vishnupurikar’s claim that up to 10 dead animals arrive each day. Records of injured and dying animals arriving at the slaughterhouse are not kept by the slaughter facility. Experts observed 31 dead and severely injured cattle during their most recent visit in December 2000.
According to Chapter Three of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, if any person beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject the animal to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes, or being the owner, permits, any animal to be so treated; or conveys or carries, whether in or upon any vehicle or not, any animal in such a manner or position as to subject the animal to unnecessary pain or suffering, he [or she] shall be punishable by the appropriate fine, and repeat offenders may be imprisoned. 

This Act also requires that watering arrangements en route be made and that sufficient quantities of water be carried for emergency.  It further states that sufficient feed and fodder with adequate reserve be carried to last during the journey and that adequate ventilation should be ensured. The Act requires that lorries carrying animals be equipped with anti-slip flooring, padding on the sides and suitable rope and platforms.  At Deonar, these laws are all ignored.

V.  Market and Holding Areas:

Market days for cattle are Fridays and Mondays, for sheep and goats they are Saturdays and Tuesdays. However, animals arrive by lorry to slaughter on other days as well. Individual traders purchase cattle, sheep and goats from the market for slaughter. 

The market consists of two holding areas, one covered, one not. The majority of animals are tethered with ropes through their noses others are loose.  PETA investigators observed that no water is provided. No food is provided either, and slaughterhouse officials admit that animals are starved prior to slaughter. Some food was provided during PETA’s announced visit with WSPA, HSA and CLE.  Sheep and goats are kept in covered and non-covered areas, also without water. Pigs are kept in pens without water. Dead and injured animals can be found strewn across the market area, many of them suffering under the searing sun, and all ignored by the veterinary staff. PETA investigators counted 21 severely injured cattle in the market area during their most recent visit in December 2000. According to Dr Chavarkar, these animals are kept in the market area, untreated, until they die or are purchased by a trader. Even during PETA’s announced visit, dead and lame sheep and goats were found in the holding area.  Pigs in poor and injured condition and injured and dead pigs were found in the pigpen. There are no veterinarians in the market areas except when providing a tour, and injured animals are ignored. Dead animals are left among the healthy animals.

According to Chapter Three of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, if any person being the owner of [any animal] fails to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter; or without reasonable cause abandons any animal in circumstances which render it likely that the animal will suffer pain by reason of starvation or thirst, he [or she] shall be punishable by the appropriate fine, and repeat offenders may be imprisoned.

VI. Slaughter:

Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs are killed at the abattoir. Cattle, sheep and goats are walked to the slaughter halls from the market, while severely injured cattle are brought in on hand-carts. It appears that there is no system for maneuvering injured sheep, goats and pigs, and it is, therefore, assumed that these animals are simply forced to walk or left to die. Hygiene standards are appalling, and all the animals are slaughtered and dressed by butchers without sanitary and protective clothing, gloves and shoes.


Observations made by PETA undercover investigators reveal that buffalos and bullocks are slaughtered in full view of each other on the slaughter floor, then shackled and hoisted upside down to be bled while conscious. These observations contradict the incredible and statistically impossible picture of separate slaughter Dr Vishnupurikar, Dr Chavarkar and the rest of the Deonar staff attempted to portray to PETA, WSPA, HSA, and CLE. 
In December 2000, 12 dead and dying cattle were observed strewn across the slaughter floor when the PETA investigator first entered the slaughter hall, making it evident that cattle are butchered in front of each other. After these 12 animals were cleared, the Deonar staff took special care to slaughter cattle separately in an effort to create a false impression of the abattoir’s routine activities. During WSPA’s announced visit, it noted, “It took some 20 minutes for these three cattle to be handled and killed this way [separately].  If this is normal procedure, the estimated throughput would be 10 cattle per hour.”

According to Dr Vishnupurikar, the throughput of cattle per hour is 35. The investigator was also rushed out by the Deonar staff who claimed that slaughter was ending, even though a long line of buffalos and bullocks was still waiting to be slaughtered in the lairage outside the slaughter hall and despite the 10 severely injured cattle lying on carts outside the slaughter hall also waiting to be relieved. During PETA’s most recent investigations, buffaloes waiting in the lairage were not sprayed with water—a necessary procedure for reducing stress in cattle.
There is obviously no standard method of bringing the cattle to the floor.  Sometimes the cattle’s necks are twisted, other times they are roped and pulled down by two feet and yet other times by four, and sometimes the animals are simply slammed to the ground. The handling of the cattle prior to slaughter is illegal and extremely rough, especially when the animals can see other animals being slaughtered before them. This causes the cattle to experience fear and to balk.
No stunning took place and the cutting procedure varied from animal to animal. WSPA on its announced visit noted, “For the smallest animal, all carotid arteries and jugular veins were cut ... the second animal was not well cut the first time and a slaughterman cut again some 20 to 30 seconds later [prolonging the death].” PETA noted during its tour in December 2000, that a buffalo was shackled and hoisted prior to loss of consciousness.  

Knives were not cleaned or sharpened after each animal, animals were not slaughtered facing Mecca , and there were other violations of religious law.

Sheep and Goats:

A wooden lairage attached to the slaughter hall is in very poor condition. During PETA’s announced visit in April, Dr Vishnupurikar claimed that renovation plans were being made.  However, during PETA’s most recent visit in December 2000, nothing had changed.

WSPA observed that the ramp up to the feeder chutes was too steep, a minimum angle of 45 degrees. The main handling passage was composed of rotted wooden slats. The final ‘single file’ raceway had a concrete floor and sides and was too wide.  The width of the raceway allowed for sheep and goats were often doubled up at the top of the race. The men at the end of the race held and turned the animals. During this time, the animals could clearly see the animals before them being killed and hung. The animals’ throats were then slit, their legs were shackled and the animals were hung upside down. 
The knives used were not sharp and were not being sharpened or cleaned after each cut. Although time to loss of consciousness in sheep is on average 14 seconds when an adequate cut is made cutting both the carotid artery and jugular vein, many of the animals took over six times that amount of time. During the skinning and dressing of the carcasses, there was no knife-cleaning.


PETA has only had the opportunity to observe pig slaughter during its announced visit with WSPA, HSA, and CLE. The condition of the animals was very poor, and there were several dead and injured animals in the pen. Pigs were moved in groups up a single file raceway and then held individually in an open sided pen ready for stunning. The pen allowed smaller pigs to hesitate and turn. The pigs waiting to be slaughtered could see their companions being hung before them. 

The pigs were stunned across the head using tongs. However, Dr Vishnupurikar was unable to offer any information regarding current or voltage being used, an indication of total disregard and oversight.

VII. Lack of Emergency Slaughter:

It is evident that injured animals are not afforded emergency slaughter. There is no separate area for slaughter of injured cattle, sheep, goats or pigs; Dr Chavarkar and other staff, when questioned, did not even know the meaning of emergency slaughter; and injured animals are clearly left to struggle and suffer, strewn across the grounds. Dr Chavarkar confirmed this by telling PETA that injured animals are left at the market until they are purchased for slaughter or have died. During PETA’s visit in December 2000, around 5 p.m. the investigator witnessed either diseased cattle or cattle who had been severely injured during transport being brought in on carts and left waiting outside the slaughter hall while health animals were being slaughtered.  Since the last lorry arrives at the slaughterhouse at approximately 10 a.m. , one can assume that these cattle had been waiting for at least seven hours, untreated and struggling with their disabilities, wounds and injuries. Dr Chavarkar explained that since these cattle were not technically dead, it was not against Muslim law to kill them for food, something that is not only false but also does not address the health consequence of eating infected, wounded and dying animals. Dr Vishnupurikar also contradicted his claim regarding emergency slaughter when he told PETA on December 14, 2000, that injured animals ‘are given back to their owners [the traders] to be removed from the grounds.’ It seems stories are just made up as the authorities see fit, and no efficient or humane procedures are in place.
NOTE: Other Indian export-level slaughterhouses have adequate emergency slaughter facilities.

VIII. Lack of Veterinary Care:

It is evident from our announced and unannounced visits that animal welfare is not of even the slightest concern to veterinarians at Deonar. When questioned about animal welfare issues, the veterinarians were repeatedly caught in lies and contradictions. This lack of responsibility is harmful not only to animals but also to human health since the eating of diseased and infected animals has serious health consequences for consumers.
According to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, a valid certificate by a qualified veterinary surgeon to the effect that cattle are in a fit condition to travel by [rail or] road and are not suffering from any infectious or contagious or parasitic diseases and that they have been vaccinated against rinderpest and other infectious or contagious or parasitic diseases must accompany each consignment and be carried by the vehicle driver. In the absence of such a certificate, the carrier is to refuse to accept the consignment for transport. Veterinary first-aid equipment is also to accompany all shipments of cattle. Despite these laws, the lorry drivers carry no such documentation or equipment, nor are they ever asked to provide it by the Deonar veterinarians.
During PETA’s announced visit with WSPA, HSA and the CLE, Deonar veterinarians claimed that all welfare issues are the responsibility of the traders, not the veterinarians or the municipality and that records regarding injured animals arriving at the slaughterhouse are not kept. The veterinarians admitted that animals are not treated for injuries and wounds. 
As mentioned in section VII, during PETA’s most recent visit to the abattoir in December 2000, the investigator noticed 10 severely injured or diseased animals on carts waiting to be killed. Dr Chavarkar informed the investigator that these animals were being killed for meat to be sold.  It is, therefore, clear that there was no veterinary inspection conducted other than the one deeming the animals unproductive for milk and draught, and that these wounded animals were not rejected from being killed for meat. 
After slaughter, WSPA noted that stamped carcasses were carelessly handled by numerous ungloved butchers and wholesalers and placed into despatch vehicles, many of which are unrefrigerated.  WSPA further noted that although all animals entering the slaughterhouse are supposed to undergo ante-mortem inspection, the veterinarian or his or her equivalent was never introduced nor was there any evidence of ante-mortem inspection.

IX. Lack of Respect for Halal Requirements:

Certain criteria must be met to satisfy the requirements of halal slaughter. The person who slaughters the animals must be of the Muslim faith, and at the time of slaughter, the butcher must evoke the name of Allah. The animal should face toward Mecca , and the instrument used to slaughter the animal must be extremely sharp. The esophagus, trachea, jugular vein and carotid arteries must all be severed to enable blood to flow immediately. The spinal cord must not be cut nor the head severed. While butchers at Deonar meet a few of these criteria, they fail to sharpen and clean their knives after each animal (there was no appropriate sterilisation agent present, only water); perform slaughter with a dulled instrument; cast the animal before sharpening their knives, if they sharpened the knife at all; slaughter animals in the presence of other animals; fail to direct the animals toward Mecca (the animals all face different directions during slaughter); fail to evoke the name of Allah; and fail to adhere to a cutting standard (WSPA noted the cutting procedure was different for each animal slaughtered; PETA observed there was often an unnecessary delay before a second cut was made if the first cut was considered inadequate). 

Cruelty inflicted on the animals prior to slaughter at Deonar also violates Islamic law. The late Imam B.A. Hafiz al-Masri stated, ‘If animals have been subjected to cruelties in their breeding, transport, slaughter or in their general welfare, meat from them is considered impure and unlawful to eat (haram).  The flesh of animals killed by cruel methods is carrion.  Even if these animals have been slaughtered in the strictest manner, if cruelties were inflicted on them otherwise, their flesh is still forbidden [haram] food.’

A hadith reported by Muslim states, ‘[W]hen you must kill a living being, do it in the proper way—when you slaughter an animal, use the best method and sharpen your knife to cause as little pain as possible.’ When he saw a man sharpening his knife in the presence of the animal he was to kill, the Prophet said, ‘Do you intend inflicting death on the animal twice—once by sharpening the knife within his sight, and once by cutting his throat?’ 

X.  Misunderstanding of Stunning Techniques and Application:

Experts agree that the implementation of proper stunning techniques performed outside the view of animals waiting to be slaughtered would decrease the suffering animals endure when killed at Deonar.  The Deonar management claims, however, that the practice of stunning is against the teachings of Islam, which is not the case. Stunning is currently successfully employed in true halal slaughterhouses in the Middle East, America , Europe, Australia , India and elsewhere.

In a letter to the Muslim Law Board, Mr Mohamed Hashim, chair of the CLE states, ‘In the Middle East and Western countries, stunning is a common practice, accepted by Islamic authorities ... We would like to see this practice adopted. ...”

XI.  Steps Taken by Outside Organisations to Improve Conditions:

It is the responsibility of the Mumbai government to direct that the Deonar general manager ensure the activities conducted in Deonar are legal, humane, accepted and safe and to impart that duty to the other managers and the large veterinary staff.  It is the joint responsibility of Mumbai’s additional muncipal commissioner, Mr Gautam Chatterjee and the mayor of Mumbai, Mr Hareshwar Patil, to work with the municipal commissioner, Mr. Karun Chandra Srivastava, to make certain that Deonar is managed in this manner.  The state government, including the chief minister, minister of transport, minister of animal husbandry, and director general of police are responsible for enforcing animal protection laws.

PETA has sent repeated letters to government officials and to the Bombay SPCA informing them of the problems at Deonar and urging them to take immediate corrective action. In May of 2000, PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk , met with Mayor Patil and his staff. The mayor pledged to take immediate action, but to date, no improvements whatsoever have been made. 

WSPA and HSA traveled from the UK to Mumbai in July to visit the abattoir in an effort to improve conditions. These experts submitted a list of basic suggestions and guidelines to the slaughterhouse management and municipality. During PETA’s most recent visit in December 2000, it was clear that absolutely no steps have been taken toward the enforcement of animal protection laws and humane treatment and that the Deonar management and Mumbai municipality have no plans to take any steps in the future.

XII.  Avoidance of Responsibility by Deonar Management and Government:

Dr Vishnupurikar and his staff assert that the Mumbai municipality merely provides the facility for the sale and slaughter of animals and declare that the welfare of the animals is the responsibility of the traders and the Bombay SPCA. Dr Vishnupurikar has claimed that the Deonar management and the municipality have no control over the traders and their operations. This tactic to avoid responsibility is disgraceful and unsupportable. It also contradicts the observations PETA made during its announced visit with WSPA, HSA, and CLE. at which time it was clear that Dr. Vishnupurikar had taken special care to clean up the facility to prevent the inspectors from viewing the usual chaos, dead and severely injured animals, overloaded lorries and so on and had created a false picture by directing that the animals be slaughtered separately. During this visit, it was clear that Dr Vishnupurikar and his staff can indeed control what goes on within Deonar.

Jayasimha N.G
Coordinator-Campaigns & Legal Affairs | People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India
PO Box 28260 , Juhu, Mumbai 400 049
(22) 26281880 | (22) 26281883 (fax) |

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner