An Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) whose licence was revoked on June 30 amid allegations of bribery against him by an NGO, has written to the Chief Minister and Governor, seeking their intervention in the matter.

Meet Ashar says the committee cancelled his AWO card without evidence or proof against him. Pic/Sameer Markande
Meet Ashar says the committee cancelled his AWO card without evidence or proof against him. Pic/Sameer Markande

Meet Ashar (22), in his letter, has claimed that laws were not followed by the Committee to Monitor Animal Welfare Laws in Maharashtra, while terminating him. “I was not given a chance to put forth my case before the committee. Without hearing my version, the committee decided to terminate my licence,” he added. The committee is appointed by the High Court and the government of Maharashtra jointly.

An NGO called SEDAN (Socialise your efforts for the demure animals near you) had levelled charges of bribery against him, but Ashar claimed that it did not furnish any evidence to their claims.

”The Committee has cancelled my AWO card without any evidence against me. In a court of law, even an accused against whom there are evidences and proof, is given an opportunity to be heard, but I was not given a chance to speak in spite of the committee having no proof against me,” the letter mentioned.

Convener of the committee, RK Joshi said, “The dismissal of Ashar was based on a complaint filed against him by an NGO. He (Ashar) can still explain his stand on the matter, even after termination.”

Terming the allegations of demanding Rs 50,000 in bribe made against him as “false and bogus,” Ashar stated that this was an attempt to malign him and his work

According to Ashar, the allegations were made as he was opposing the work of SEDAN, of relocating 10 dogs from a society in Chembur to an animal shelter, as the process was illegal. “None of the animals that were to be relocated were in unfit condition,” pointed out Ashar. “Since relocation of stray dogs is a criminal offence and in contravention of the Supreme Court’s interim order, I had written to all authorities concerned, including the Committee to Monitor Animal Welfare Laws in Maharashtra on June 11, 2016, but no reply was received from the Committee.”

SEDAN says
“Meet demanded a bribe of Rs 50,000 from us and threatened to shut down the NGO,” said Pravina Rathod (30), a member of SEDAN. According to her, when she first contacted Ashar regarding the matter of the relocation of these dogs, the latter spoke to her unprofessionally and in a rude manner. “He used unparliamentary language while speaking to me,” she said. Rathod further alleged that at the time, Ashar’s AWO licence had not been renewed, which didn’t give him any right to intervene in the matter.

In support of Ashar
Fizzah Shah, a veteran AWO appointed by the committee that has revoked Ashar’s licence, said, “I had recommended Meet for the AWO card, as the rules and regulations of the committee require the recommendation of someone with credibility,” she said. “There is nothing doubtful about his work; he is a very persistent activist while taking up any case, and is also very well versed with animal laws,” she said.