Mira Road societies row: Pow wow over feeding strays will be investigated

Updated: Aug 15, 2016, 18:59 IST | Neha LM Tripathi

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has appealed to district authorities to conduct a detailed investigation into allegations of cruelty to animals by two posh housing societies at Mira Road

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has appealed to district authorities to conduct a detailed investigation into allegations of cruelty to animals by two posh housing societies at Mira Road. The Board has also termed their not allowing stray dogs into the societies and ‘threatening’ the dog lover residents as inhuman.

Shaheen Sayyed with one of the dogs she feeds in her society. Pic/Prabhanjan Dhanu
Shaheen Sayyed with one of the dogs she feeds in her society. Pic/Prabhanjan Dhanu

The Board’s letter on August 8 states that the allegations made are quite serious and the methods employed to get rid of the dogs are illegal and against the guidelines issued by them. The AWBI in the letter has clearly stated that no person can interfere with any resident providing food or water to hungry animals. In spite of this, these two complexes are allegedly implementing rules in direct violation. The societies include the Kalpataru Complex and Poonam Estate.

The Kalpataru Complex in Srishti Co-Operative Housing Society on July 30 circulated a notice, stating that since few animal lovers were feeding stray dogs inside the complex (which the society heads had banned), the society will approach the police and municipal corporation stating that their children were at risk.

The incident
The issue had sparked off after an incident involving Shaheen Sayyed who has been residing in the complex since May. On July 26, she went to feed a puppy in the complex. She claims she was approached by one of the residents, who had the night before warned her to stop feeding the weak puppy. She claims he got out of his car and threatened her. Sayyed alleged, “I was searching for the puppy along with my daughter, when one of the residents warned me to stop feeding it. I asked him to give this in writing, to which I would reply officially. He got furious and immediately called up around 30 people to stand up for him.”

Sayyed, whose husband is a businessman in Kuwait, claimed that she has not stepped out of her home fearing the man. She claimed that even when she approached Kashimira police station, the man came along with his group and did not bother to even listen to the police officials.

Few residents mid-day spoke to, stated that the person and group Sayyed mentioned were dog haters and threatened everybody who fed them. One of the oldest residents of the complex said, “I feed the dogs every day, hiding from people in the complex. This is because if they realise that I feed them, then either the dogs will disappear or we will be troubled by the people.”

Similar situation
Shikha Sharma, a physiotherapist and a resident of Poonam Estate in Mira Road, is facing a similar situation. The residents allegedly mobbed her family members on July 25 for feeding a stray dog in their complex. Sharma explained, “I have been feeding just one dog inside the complex since he stays here. All other dogs are fed outside the complex, yet the residents threatened my family and me. They said they will harm the dogs if we continue to feed them. They even approached the police officials with a complaint, and my mother, a senior citizen, was threatened and abused by them recently.” Sharma has been residing in the complex for around a year.

Activist says
A letter was written by Meet Ashar, an animal rights activist and a former Animal Welfare Officer, to the Thane and Kashimira police, after some residents approached him, alleging that the societies are being cruel and abusive towards stray dogs by beating them and driving them away.

“This is a criminal offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and contempt of the Supreme Court’s order (SLP 691/09), which states that killing, beating, driving away, relocating stray dogs is illegal. Also, the societies are harassing local animal caretakers who feed and tend to stray dogs. Feeding stray dogs is not illegal. On the contrary, a person is discharging his duties of being a responsible citizen as per Article 51(A)(g) of the Constitution of India by showing compassion towards animals,” said Ashar.

The Other Side
Chitrasen Singh, secretary of the Kalpataru Federation said, “Few years back, there were cases where our children were bitten by stray dogs, and this is the reason we have asked all the members to feed the dogs outside the complex. The woman made false allegations in the police station against us.” Mukesh Singh, security in charge of Poonam Estate said, “All the allegations are baseless, as we just requested the family to feed the dog outside the premises owing to safety of our children. It was the family who threatened us against harming the dogs when we didn’t say anything like this.”

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