Updated: April 4, 2021 6:21:04 am
Deaths of two stray dogs after one of them allegedly bit a child in Prempura area of Hapur, in western UP, has become a flashpoint, with the police accused of delaying registration of an FIR into the incident, and Lok Sabha MP and People for Animals founder Maneka Gandhi stating that the circle officer concerned “should be suspended”, and that she will “certainly follow this up”.
After repeated interventions from Maneka, the police finally registered an FIR – The Indian Express has seen a copy – on March 26, 10 days after the incident. It was, however, lodged not on the complaint of animal rescuer and feeder Swati Garg, who first approached the police, but on the basis of another person, whom Garg alleges could be hand in glove with the suspects.
On March 16, Garg, 23, said a large crowd carrying sticks gathered outside her home and threatened to kill a stray dog, who they claimed had bitten the daughter of a resident. She brought the dog in to save its life.
She released the animal the next day, but the situation became tense soon. “Out of fear, my parents locked me indoors. From the window, I saw people feeding them (dogs) milk. I screamed for them to stop them, but no one intervened. All I could do was take a short video of it…. I had called the police for help – a team arrived but did nothing to help,” she claimed.
As the crowd grew agitated, Garg called a taxi and sent the dog to a sanctuary in Greater Noida, but on the way, it vomited and started foaming at the mouth, she said. It died soon. Hours later, another dog from the same lane was rushed to a vet with similar symptoms and died as well.
A third dog also took ill, but recovered.
Garg went to the police station the same day, but said no complaint was filed.
On March 26, the FIR was finally lodged under IPC Section 429 (mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless, any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow or ox, whatever may be the value thereof, of any other animal of the value of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both).
Garg said, “The police refused to take my complaint. I ran from pillar to post, got the postmortem of both dogs done. I followed procedure. But they constantly tried to dissuade me…. One of them even said they can’t register an FIR because these were stray dogs, and not pet dogs. Last Tuesday, I went to the police station again, and they said the FIR was already lodged. When I finally got a copy, the complainant mentioned was someone else.”
While Garg had named a person who she “witnessed” feeding milk to one of the dogs that died, the FIR was lodged against “unknown persons”. As per the FIR, the complainant, identified as Sonu Bansal, stated: “There are three stray dogs in our locality who have bitten children. On April 16, some unknown person fed two dogs some toxic substance due to which they died…”
Bansal, also a local resident, told The Indian Express: “Sab bekaar ki baatein hai; kuchh nahi hua wahan (it’s all rubbish; nothing happened there). These dogs would bite people and so I went to the chowki and informed the police. Someone might have fed them something.”
The rescuer said that her repeated visits to the police station were unsuccessful, and spoke of the harassment she faced over the last two weeks. “A dog bite is a serious matter. But does that mean someone can poison and murder an animal for it,” she asked.
She claimed to have got all dogs in her locality sterilised and vaccinated.
Chief Veterinary Officer Jitendra Gupta, who conducted the postmortems of both dogs, said: “The first dog died of hypovolemic shock (severe fluid loss), which could or could not be due to poisoning. The cause of death of the second dog was hepatotoxicity. The liver was damaged, which could have been caused by some sort of chemical poisoning. To further confirm the cause of death, I took samples of viscera, liver, kidney, stomach etc. As per procedure, the police seal these samples and send them for further forensic testing.”
Calling it a “very serious case”, Maneka Gandhi told The Indian Express, “The local police, especially CO Vaibhav Pandey, have behaved disgracefully. There is clear evidence on film of a man feeding poisoned milk to the dogs. The police refused to accept Swati’s complaint and turn it into an FIR. Then they tried to scare her, saying they would file counter-FIRs for no reason, saying these dogs had bitten a child, which turned out to be false.”
Maneka said, “They kept calling her to the police station and abusing her. The postmortem was done on my asking, (and) the CVO gave a report saying the dogs were poisoned. I talked to him myself. Police changed the report to show no poisoning and put the FIR in someone else’s name. The CO should be suspended and I am certainly going to follow this up. Till date, no one has been arrested.”
The MP said this was also a matter of a woman rescuer being harassed.
Hapur SP Neeraj Kumar Jadaun said, “Both parties met me and presented their sides. Swati Garg explained the situation, including death of the two dogs. Several other residents complained that there are many stray dogs in the area and many people and children have been bitten. We cannot take any information at face value and are in the process of collecting evidence, including the postmortem reports. The matter is being investigated and action will be taken against whoever poisoned the dogs.”
Asked why Garg’s complaint was not taken but Bansal’s was, Jadaun said, “I will have to find out about that. But it doesn’t matter who filed the complaint. Investigation will be done.”
Hapur Nagar SHO Subodh Kumar Saxena said: “After the FIR was registered, we got a complaint from around 15 residents, who said these dogs have bitten many people. The CVO has ruled out poisoning. When such an incident happens, should we prioritise humans or animals?”
He denied Garg’s allegations that the police team that reached the spot on the day of the incident did nothing to protect her, were non-cooperative, and tried to dissuade her from filing a complaint.
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