Dalmatians chained and abused at posh South Mumbai home

Apr 04, 2016, 07:39 IST | Neha LM Tripathi

Nirmeet Solanki keeps seven malnourished Dalmatians tied up in his Al-Sabah Court home in Marine Drive with an equally undernourished and unkempt tortoise

The art deco Al-Sabah Court building, located in the iconic Marine Drive belt counts among its residents, a man who lives with eight malnourished, unkempt pets – seven Dalmatians and a tortoise –in his home. This man has been accused by two Cuffe Parade residents of assaulting his dog and keeping the rest of his pets in deplorable conditions in his home. After being informed about the cruelty he metes out to his pets, cops have only registered a non-cognisable complaint against him.

Ammar Petiwala and his friend Aditya Kapoor confronted Nirmeet Solanki, after they saw him assaulting his Dalmatian
Ammar Petiwala and his friend Aditya Kapoor confronted Nirmeet Solanki, after they saw him assaulting his Dalmatian

Ammar Petiwala and his friend Aditya Kapoor spotted the cruel owner on March 20 when they were on their way home to Cuffe Parade. They saw the man, who was walking his Dalmatian, when he kicked the dog on its face with immense force. “He then proceeded to kick the dog repeatedly all over its body, causing the dog to bark out in pain. The dog then became quite aggressive. I immediately asked my friend Aditya to stop the car so we could confront the man who had just mercilessly abused his pet dog,” said Petiwala, recounting the incident.

‘Loves’ his dogs
When Petiwala and Kapoor stepped out of the car to confront the man about his behaviour and explained him that it amounted to animal cruelty, the man said he loves his dog and hence was walking him at 1:30 am. He said he has three other “stray” dogs at home, who are walked separately, as they are better behaved. Kapoor then took a video of the man and his dog, in which the man clearly admits to abusing the dog because it ate some faeces from the ground.

Among the seven Dalmatians, two were tied up in the hallway
Among the seven Dalmatians, two were tied up in the hallway

The next morning, Petiwala approached Karan Mohta, who is a lawyer and animal lover and Nandita Saigal, who is an Animal Welfare Officer. With help from experts, they were able to figure out the man’s address and learnt that he lived in flat number 1 of Al-Sabah Court on Marine Drive. Further inquiries with the watchman of the building and other dog owners nearby confirmed that the man was one Nirmeet Solanki.

After making certain inquiries about the abused dog, the team comprising of the two boys, Karan, Nandita and two of her friends were given conflicting stories. Petiwala said, “We mentioned that we had a video of Solanki admitting he assaulted the dog. Upon being shown the video, Solanki’s family blatantly lied and identified the man in the video as a dog walker. A simple Facebook search of ‘Nirmeet Solanki’ will clearly show that the person in the video admitting to assaulting the dog is in fact none other than Nirmeet Solanki. Nandita asked the family if there were any other dogs or animals in the house. This question was met with an uneasy silence.”

Upon walking through the cramped, dark and dingy house to verify the same, Saigal noticed there were seven fully-grown Dalmatians tied up in various parts of the house. Two were in the hallway, two in the balcony, one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen (this dog was a female and had clearly been bred, according to Nandita Saigal) and one was tied up in the toilet.

“They were all tied up on extremely short leashes and exhibited severe signs of malnourishment and aggression. In the hot and humid Mumbai weather, none of the dogs had access to even a drop of water. In fact, there was no sign of a water bowl in the entire house. We identified that the animal kicked by Solanki was tied up on a short leash and confined to a 10 sq ft bathroom,” explained Saigal.

When Saigal insisted on meeting Solanki, she was made to speak to Solanki’s mother, identified as Maltiben Harshad Kapadia, who called Solanki. “On the phone, Solanki was rude, aggressive and abusive and even threatened me,” Saigal said.

“Upon being spoken to in a rude, abusive and threatening manner by Solanki, we informed his mother (Kapadia) and his daughter that we would be proceeding in the matter in accordance with law. Kapadia seemed a bit anxious, but we explained we are just doing what is best for the neglected, mistreated and abused animals in her home. We then left the flat and went our respective ways,” said Karan Mohta. Mohta had also written a letter to DCP Sandip Karnik on March 25, five days after the incident took place.

“I sincerely hope they are not running a breeding operation, but there are numerous signs pointing to exactly that. Additionally, Saigal asked them for papers relating to all the animals, Solanki’s family made it clear was made clear that there were no papers with respect to any of them,” stated Petiwala in a statement to the Marine Lines Police station, that has registered a non-cognisable complaint but not an FIR.

“It is my statement that there are not just one or two, but 8 animals in Flat No. 1 in Al-Sabah Court who are facing abuse on a daily basis from an abusive and aggressive man Nirmeet Solanki. I have witnessed first-hand the cruelty he shows his so-called pet dog, kicking the poor dog with such force that it still shocks me when I think about it.”

The statement further read, “The house itself is so cramped, dirty and messy that there isn’t enough space for even one dog, but Solanki has decided to keep seven Dalmatians, all of whom are severely restricted due to being tied up to small spaces for extended periods of time. Apart from the dogs, there is a severely neglected tortoise that might not survive much longer in its current state.”

Meanwhile, when mid-day contacted Nirmeet Solanki, he said he is out of town and refused to comment.

Cop says
Senior police inspector of Marine Drive police station Popat Yadav said, “We have taken a non cognisable complaint as there is no provision of FIR in such cases of cruelty. In case of anything further, the complainant has to approach court.”

Another neglected animal
Nandita Saigal’s assistant, Srilakshmi Amirtheshwaran spotted something moving under a bed sheet in the bedroom. She soon realized that the house had another neglected animal – a Red Slider Tortoise. It had a collapsed shell and its nails were overgrown – almost to the point of rendering its legs useless.

“Kapadia kept stating they were Jains and therefore would not harm animals. However, the Red Slider Tortoise needs a diet rich in non-vegetarian food, which it is not getting in Kapadia’s Jain household,” added Saigal.

Activists speak

Nandita Saigal, Animal Welfare Officer
The purpose is to bring to light the helplessness of genuine animal rescuers who try their best to make conditions better and rescue animals from cruel situations but our hands out tied due to weak laws. We need to get together to change the laws so that there are no more such cruelty cases. No more voiceless crying babies because we are their voice.

Shakuntala Majumdar, President, Thane SPCA
Unfortunately, the current laws do not support cruelty towards animals as a cognisable offence. There are only a few provisions in the PCA Act which recognise these offences as cognizable and that too, only if they result in death, maiming or rendering the animal useless. There is an urgent need for a complete review.

Fiza Shah, Activist with NGO In Defense of Animals
The police tries to avoid taking an FIR in cases, be it with men or animals. Though in cases of cruelty to animals, they take an FIR only when there the cruelty done is visible. It depends on the police officials how seriously they interpret the tying of these dogs and keeping the turtle in this manner.

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