Incidentally, the end came days after the animal had got a prosthetic limb. Apparently the 13-year-old horse did not respond well to the artificial crutch.
The only consolation is that the animal spent its last few weeks at the police lines in Dehradun, where a group of policemen and an international animal rights activist from the US, Jamie Vaughan, took care of it.
Predictably, animal rights activists reacted sharply to the demise and asked the government to take action against the accused BJP leader, Ganesh Joshi.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi said: “Shaktiman was a police officer on duty and the person who put him through so much pain and ultimately killed him should be arrested for killing a police officer.”
Joshi, the legislator from Mussoorie, attacked and severely injured Shaktimaan during a BJP protest against the Harish Rawat government here on March 14. On Wednesday, he said, “I am very sad. I was not at fault, not even 0.1 per cent. If I am found guilty, then cut my leg.”
The animal was even dragged into a fiery political row in the weeks before Uttarakhand was placed under president’s rule. The BJP had accused the Congress of using the horse to target its lawmaker to keep him away from assembly proceedings and possible voting.
‘‘Shaktiman lost its battle with life after a brave fight of 37 days. I salute its bravery and also the Dehradun police, the doctors and Jamie who looked after Shakti and wanted it to live,” filmmaker Vinod Kapri told IANS. Kapri recently made a documentary on life and the struggle of the horse.
“It’s not a death of a horse but a child in a home. We treated Shaktimaan like our own child,” an emotional Kapri said.
PETA India chief executive Poorva Joshipura told IANS that the country should frame more stringent laws against animal assaulters so that people like Joshi are not cruel to them. Joshipura said the horse “was essentially killed the day its leg was broken”. “Our equine veterinarian also warned the quality of life of the animal would be forever damaged and he may not live.”
Badly injured in the attack, Shaktiman’s leg had to be amputated. A few days back, another US resident, Tim Mahoney, travelled all the way from Kentucky to Dehradun at his own expense to deliver a prosthetic limb for the injured horse.
The horse was a part of the mounted police and had featured in parades since it was a three-year-old colt.