Days after a video showing a traffic marshal stamping a stray dog’s throat till it died in a busy market is Noida’s Sector 45 went viral, the Noida Traffic Police released three video testimonials of alleged witnesses on social media, calling them a “reality check by Noida police, truth behind killing of dog by retired fauji traffic volunteer in public interest”.
In the videos, three vendors are seen saying, “Woh kutta paagal tha, 4-6 logon ko kaat chuka tha.” One vendor says, “People told me about it. They said the dog was mad. It had bitten 4-6 people. The man came and put his leg on it, and it died.” In the middle of the clip, someone is heard prompting him, “Had he not put his leg on the dog, would it have bitten more people?” The vendor then says, yes, and repeats.
The videos have since received angry responses on Facebook and Twitter, one of which says, “Under what section of IPC does UP police have the authority to murder dogs by standing on their necks?” “Such a horrible and shameless thing to do. And worse, you’re defending killing a harmless and helpless dog,” says another. “Pathetic excuse… Let’s see the post-mortem sheet of the dog stating it was rabid then?” asks another.
Station Officer Ajay Kumar of Sector 39 police station told The Indian Express, “The accused, Dhan Singh, a traffic marshal, was arrested on Monday night. He got bail the same day,” before hanging up while this reporter was still asking questions. He then stopped answering calls.
Asked if the police were trying to justify the killing of the dog by posting the video testimonials, SSP, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Love Kumar, said, “What he did may have been wrong, but he had no malafide intentions. Amid the panic, he was trying to protect the public, which I appreciate. He was trying to control the dog, and during that it died.”
Asked why due process was not followed to ascertain if the dog was rabid, and whether a post-mortem had been done, the SSP said, “Is it possible to follow procedure at all times? I am not sure whether a post-mortem was done.” He also rejected claims that the accused was drunk at the time.
“Suppose the dog was indeed rabid and biting people, it would have been impossible to catch it, let alone stand on it. This is an utter lie. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act specifies procedures to handle such a case. Can anyone take the law into their own hands like this? What effect will it have on others?” asked Anjali Sharma, advocate, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court, and former member of the Animal Welfare Board of India and management committee of SPCA NOIDA. On police releasing the videos, Sharma said, “This is gross misconduct. They are supposed to conduct an investigation, and then submit a challan in court. Why are they speaking for the man? Have they concluded their investigation?”
In January this year, while hearing a batch of petitions on issues relating to orders passed by various civic bodies on culling of stray dogs, the Supreme Court had said, “Stray dogs have a right to live,” when a submission was made that all such canines should be “destroyed” across the country, according to a PTI report. “A person can die due to dog bite. It is an accident… we cannot say kill all stray dogs,” the SC had said.