Mumbai: War of money collected by NGOs erupt two days after dog brutalised in Worli dies
The saga of brutalised Worli dog, who died after hospitalisation, raises questions of accountability and the manner in which donations were raised
Just two days after the death of the unfortunate stray, Lucky, who was brutally assaulted in a Worli building on July 24, a war has erupted over the money collected by NGOs for his treatment, which now runs into lakhs. There are accusations by animal activists against NGOs, who they claim are making money under the guise of seeking donations for Lucky's treatment. The NGOs have refuted allegations and are now pointing fingers at each other.
Speaking to mid-day, Jayesh Shah of the NGO Help Animals and Birds Association (HABA), which had first rescued Lucky and taken him away for treatment, said the donations to his NGO's account had added up to around R7lakh and that he would soon be refunding donors as the dog was no more. He said, "I have been rescuing injured stray animals for years and did the same for Lucky. From July 24 to 28, we treated him at our own clinic, but another NGO. Bombay Animal Rights (BAR), decided to take the dog to a well known private veterinary hospital in south Mumbai. The cost of treatment there is high and as BAR is not a registered NGO, they told me to raise the donations through my NGO. By July 31, I realised that the money collected had reached around R7 lakh, much more than what was needed so I posted on Facebook on that day that the money would be returned."
He added, "Now that Lucky passed away on August 6, people will be getting their money back but this process may take some time due to the various modes of payment including NIFT, RGTS and even UPI modes." Shah claimed that he had used his personal funds to treat Lucky in the initial days and that he has not touched any of the money raised from the numerous donation appeals.
Battle of the NGOs
Meanwhile, Eram Rizvi, who was part of BAR at the time, came into picture and claimed that she had admitted Lucky from HABA to a private veterinary hospital, Crown Vet. A message was also posted in Facebook and WhatsApp groups. She said she was not attached to any NGO and was seeking donations in her personal capacity. The social media message by Rizvi reads, "...I always insisted that Lucky's donations be given to Crown Vet because they were ready to legally accept the donations. I do not know why all donations were collected in the name of another NGO."
Speaking to mid-day, Vijay Mohanani, from the NGO BAR, said, "Lucky was taken by Jayesh Shah of HABA to his clinic on July 24. BAR was told that the prime witness and building resident Nishank [second name not known] was filing an FIR. July 25 and 26 went by just waiting for Nishank and his promises. On July 27, BAR founder filed a case at Worli police station and on July 28 both BAR and HABA decided to shift Lucky to Crown Vet, Mahalaxmi, for a diagnosis.
"When BAR and HABA decided to move him, we mutually agreed that HABA would collect funds in their NGO account on the appeal of BAR to pay Crown Vet's medical bills for Lucky as BAR did not have its own bank account. Donation appeals were closed as the NGO had collected over R7 lakh. On July 31, HABA released a Facebook post that they were refunding all donations. They further claimed that all donations were sent back via banks and would be refunded by August 1 evening."
Lucky slipped into a coma soon after he was thrashed on July 24. Pic/Twitter
Mohanani has claimed that Rizvi was part of BAR until August 2, when she quit the NGO. "While BAR was trying to solve the problem with HABA, Rizvi came up with a post accusing HABA and BAR of embezzling the funds for Lucky. She further stopped access to everyone, including me, on Saturday August 3. Neither Eram nor Jayesh came once to see Lucky post his death."
Speaking to mid-day, an animal welfare activist, unconnected to the developments and who did not wished to be named, said, "Both Vijay Mohanani from BAR and Jayesh Shah of HABA are hand-in-glove. We want to know why they did not even pay the bills for Lucky's treatment at Crown Vet despite getting donations of R7 lakh. This itself proves that their intentions were to earn money in the name of the treatment of a dog . Does it take so many days to return money? It's because of such people and NGOs that the animal welfare activists won't be trusted in future and no celebrity will come forward to help stray animals in need of treatment."
On July 24, Lucky, a stray dog, had sought shelter on the premises of a Worli housing society as it was raining. Angered by this, one of the residents allegedly told the security guard to beat the dog. The guard thrashed the emaciated animal so badly that he slipped into a coma. The video of the thrashing and Lucky's subsequent state went viral on social media, and celebrities began forwarding and tweeting about his plight.
Crown Vet says
In the middle of the free-for-all, Crown Vet, which had been treating Lucky until Tuesday, put out a statement on Thursday clarifying its own stand and rubbishing allegations of wrongdoing against it. Among other things, Crown Vet clarified:
- At the time of his admission, we had clarified that Lucky was admitted under the authorisation and responsibility of Eram Rizvi. We clarified that we would deal with and take instructions from one person only. It was informed to us that it would be Eram Rizvi and she signed on the consent forms.
- With respect to all accounts and payments:
- Total bills generated for Lucky's treatment were R85,439
- Total amount received on account of authorised payments made on behalf of Eram Rizvi to Crown Vet was Rs 1,65,555
- A surplus amount of Rs 80,000 is being refunded. (Rs 68,000 is already refunded to the respective donors as of 6 pm on Thursday, August 8)
- Post Lucky's demise, a detailed summary of the bills and clear accounts of payments accepted have been provided to Eram Rizvi.
- Over and above this Crown Vet has received random payments directly into its account of Rs 56,634 from several locations and anonymous donors. This amount has not been authorized by Ms Rizvi and NO form has been filled. We have therefore contacted our bank and have initiated the payment reversal process.
- We are now finding that several malicious allegations are being made against Crown Vet that are highly defamatory in nature and absolutely untrue. We are receiving negative backlash due to reckless statements being posted on social media that are backed by absolutely no evidence. The false allegations made are that Lucky passed away several days before the actual date of his death and that Crown Vet is conniving with Eram Rizvi to make money from his treatment. This is highly defamatory and backed with absolutely no evidence.
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