BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi held for assault on police horse

Uttarakhand Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ganesh Joshi, who is accused of attacking police horse Shaktiman and breaking its left hind leg during a BJP protest march on 14 March, was arrested today in Dehradun. Joshi has been charged with attacking the horse, whose leg has had to be amputated.

Police Inspector General Garhwal Range Sanjay Gunjyal said the MLA from Mussoorie was arrested from outside a hotel in Patel Nagar area on the basis of a First Information Report lodged against him and his associates at the Nehru Colony police station in Dehradun in connection with the assault on the horse on 14 March.

The official said Joshi was being interrogated. He, however, refused to disclose where the MLA was taken.

According to reports, the arrest of the MLA comes after union minister Maneka Gandhi asked the Uttarakhand Director General of Police for strict action against Joshi.

Reacting sharply to the development, BJP lodged a protest with Governor K K Paul and alleged it was "abduction" of its MLA.

The BJP has been demanding withdrawal of cases lodged against its workers including Joshi, asserting that they were being framed at the behest of the state government to cow down the opposition.

"The manner in which Joshi was picked up from outside a hotel suggests he was abducted. Those who picked him up were in plain clothes and it is not clear whether they were police personnel or goondas," leader of the opposition in Uttarakhand Assembly Ajay Bhatt said.

Bhatt said he had called on Governor K K Paul to register his protest against the manner in which the party legislator was picked up.

But such protests are not likely to help the BJP's public image, as the assault on the hapless horse was captured on a video which quickly went viral on the social media, creating national headlines and anger over unwarranted brutality against animals.

''It is time someone beat some horse sense into the BJP, as Joshi himself has a reputation of being a goonda,'' said a local activist.

The action against Joshi comes a day after the arrest of another party worker Pramod Bora from Haldwani in Nainital district on Thursday.

Dehradun Senior Superintendent of Police Sadanand Date said Bora along with Joshi was responsible for precipitating the fall of the horse during the protest March which caused grievous injuries to one of its hind legs.

Hapless horse
Meanwhile, the injured horse whose fractured hind leg had to be amputated late last night by a team of doctors at the police lines can now stand with the help of an artificial leg. However, doctors attending on Shaktiman said it will have to be seen whether the prop is strong enough to support the horse, which weighs four quintals (or 400kg).

Mumbai surgeon Feroze Khambatta, who led a team of doctors that operated on the horse, said he had performed eight similar operations in Nepal and Bhutan but on horses, which weighed only two quintals.

As Shaktiman weighs four quintals it is not clear for how long he can stand and move with an artificial leg. He is constantly under the watch of doctors and over two dozen police personnel at the police lines.

Shaktiman is a well-trained and well-behaved horse who has been a part of Uttarakhand Mounted Police for years.

Chief minister Harish Rawat also expressed concern over the horse's condition.

The incident took place during a protest against Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat near the state Assembly in Dehradun. The horse Shaktiman, part of the Uttarakhand Mounted Police, fell down during the protest after Bora allegedly tried to pull it down.

Joshi was seen trying to hit the horse with a stick and was also accused of breaking its leg. He has, however, maintained that he was just trying to scare the animal.