'Arrested' donkey in cruelty row
Campaigners in India's Tamil Nadu state say the law is literally an ass after a judge ordered the arrest of a donkey.
The animal was kept overnight in a police station after being seized at a rally in which it was used to highlight alleged failings of local officials.
Police said the donkey was evidence from the "scene of a crime". They have been accused of animal cruelty.
The donkey's owners, meanwhile, say they are grateful to get it back after its period of incarceration.
They say that while it is good to have it home again, it is even more stubborn and bad-tempered than normal.
'Unmotivated and mulish'
The story began when two groups working in the district of Kancheepuram asked the animal's owners if they could borrow it as part of their campaign to promote land rights for Irula tribes people.
The Kancheepuram District People's Forum and the Sons of the Soil groups rented the donkey for use in a demonstration against what they say is the lethargy of the authorities in dealing with the issue.
A poster was hung from the donkey's neck during the protest earlier this week in which the district administration was caricatured as "slow to act, unmotivated and mulish".
This gesture angered members of the administration, who filed a complaint with police against the two groups.
They complained that they had been "derided" in the demonstration.
Police then arrested the demonstrators and materials used by them including a tent, a loudspeaker and an amplifier, as well as the donkey.
By the time they took the case before Magistrate IG Uthamaraj, it was late in the day. So he remanded the detainees - and the donkey - overnight in custody.
"If the law supposes that... The law is an ass - an idiot
Mr Bumble in Charles ****ens' Oliver Twist
Bewildered police say they did not expect this development, because the usual practice is for animals at crime scenes to be returned to their owners.
But because the animal's owners could not be traced, the magistrate said he had not option but to order its detention.
Officers were heard to complain that their four-legged prisoner was not the easiest of detainees, and was upset about everything from food and drink to the standard of accommodation.
Fortunately for police, the donkey's owners were traced the next day.
They said that they were unaware that the animal had been used for a demonstration when they agreed to hire it out.
Now police have filed a case against the two campaigning groups for animal cruelty. They in turn have accused the police of cruelty.
Owners of the donkey, meanwhile, joke that it is now consulting its lawyers with a view to suing both parties