Thane's Rustomjee Azziano committee members harassing dog feeders in their society, alleges NGO

The issue of feeding strays has always been a contentious one across the Thane district.

Abhitash SinghUpdated: Monday, May 23, 2022, 03:41 PM IST
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Thane's Rustomjee Azziano committee members harassing dog feeders in their society, alleges NGO | Prashant Narvekar

Even though Supreme Court on Thursday, May 19, 2022 cleared the way for dog feeders by lifting it's stay order in a Delhi High Court judgement of 2021 that stated stray dogs have the right to food with citizens also having a right to feed them, but the committee members and other residents from Rustomjee Azziano Phase 2 are not adhering with the supreme court order and they are harassing the dog feeder who is a senior citizen in the society alleged Pari Mehta a president of Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Ummeed Foundation from Majiwada in Thane.

After Mahesh Kamat and others animal feeders where threatened by some members of Rustomjee Azziano the debate of feeding stray dogs inside societies which is a long standing issue has once again surfaced. While animal lovers and feeders cite unfair treatment the members in the societies point out that strays often become aggressive.

As per the reports the issue of feeding strays has always been a contentious one across Thane district which has long divided residents.

Ill treatment to the dog feeders in Society alleged dog feeder

Shocked with the reaction of the society and committee members, the senior citizen Mahesh Kamat who resides in the same society says that the incident was a horrifying experience. Mahesh Kamat said that when I was feeding the dogs in the society I was issued a notice that I will be charged Rs 5000 as penalty and also other members who will feed dogs will be charged the same amount. They said that we can't take care of community dogs. They also stopped a person named Ramakant who was appointed specially by Kamat and a few dog lovers to feed community dogs on a timely basis. Kamat questioned whether it is okay to flout the Supreme Court order.

Rustomjee Azziano society members violating Article 21 under constitution of India

Pari Mehta, president of Ummeed Foundation, a NGO which looks after various activities including animals rights said, " I have written letter to both the district deputy registrar of Co-operative Housing Society and Rabodi Police station senior police inspector regarding harassment to senior citizen Mahesh Kamat from the society members for feeding dogs inside the society. Mr.Kamat complained to me on 5th May, 2022 that they are harassed, abused and cornered by their society and committee people for feeding their society community dogs. The society also banned all feeders to feed and issued notice stating that they would be fined Rs 5000 per feeding and will also publish feeders' names in social media. As per animal law it is a crime to stop feeding community animals and to harass any feeders in the complex."

Pari Mehta, a president of NGO Ummeed Foundation speaking with FPJ correspondent said, " We after receiving the complaint from Mahesh Kamat tried to set up a meeting with Rabodi police station and the society members to short out the issues. We lodged a complaint with the Rabodi police station senior police inspector Santosh Ghatekar who assured us that a joint meeting will be conducted on May 8,2022 and all the matter will be shorted out but in the meeting we saw the aggression, shouting, abusing language and threatening by society people on Mahesh Kamat and other animals feeder. In public forum there were some members who stated that they will kill all the dogs other members said he will throw all the dogs out of the society and one member said that he is going to show what he is to all the feeder who are taking care of speechless life and one member said that take all the dogs to your home and love them the way you want. It was so bad and shameful to see such a toxic mind people are in such a posh complex. The society members were just going on shouting in front of the senior police inspector of Rabodi police station and his team and me in a public forum which is not tolerable."

Not against the dogs and dogs feeders, but no resident should be harmed because of the animal

“The residents are not against feeding dogs and are equally compassionate towards these animals. However, the point of concern is the insistence of few on feeding them in the closed parking space. There have been ongoing instances of dogs getting aggressive, chasing and attacking people including senior citizens and children. Who will take responsibility if something untoward happens to them? There are instances of dogs attacking residents riding two-wheelers causing accidents. Also, feeding dogs in the parking areas leads to unhygienic conditions. Our only request is to move the feeding area outside the premises in a time-bound manner. Hope they understand that,” says Amit Arabatti, a resident of the society.

“The MC of Rustomjee Azziano E-K CHSL has always been accommodative of the animal welfare residents and their needs. Feeding areas had been allocated within the parking levels P1-P4 to facilitate them. However, this is leading to serious safety and health concerns for all residents. The activity has been outsourced to an outsider who is not at all sensitized to the needs of the society and many times have been found to be placing food carelessly in areas other than designated ones. Also, anytime during the day and specifically at night, these dogs are attacking residents in the parking levels. The MC has received several official complaints and has on numerous occasions requested the dog feeders to take more accountability for their actions. Ready access to food and water in parking is detrimental to dogs’ well-being as they are not looking to venture out of these areas and continue to live in the dark spots. They become violent and aggressive and most residents are scared to venture out into the parking levels. It is a request to dog feeders to work closely with the MC and come out with a solution and move the feeding zone away from the parking levels and into other areas within the premises. They are also requested to do the task themselves and not outsource it to maintain the discipline. This is in the best interest of living and existing with mutual respect and harmony,” says Indranil Choudhury, Secretary of the society.

As per Saurabh Priyadarshi Singh, MC representative and resident of Rustomjee Azziano, the Managing Committee had floated pet animal policy on 22nd September 2021. Wherein the MC had allowed feeding of strays keeping a very kind and lenient view and in spirit of coexistence.

Recently, in view of multiple complaints and some life-threatening attacks by stray dogs (over 100 documented complaints) in all parking levels, it is very evident that the situation has worsened and strays in various incidents have proved to be a threat to residents’ safety and life. Taking cognizance of the issue, the Managing Committee called both Animal Lovers group and Aggrieved residents to find a middle way out and discuss and find the resolution. After listening to both parties, and based on written real incidents of life threats and photographs of littering, the Managing Committee took a view of giving safety and health of residents utmost priority. Since parking area and levels are part of amenities and are frequented by all 1483 families of society and usually crowded which includes Kids, Children, Ladies, Senior Citizens, Working professionals at any hour of the day or night taking clue from Animal Welfare Board of India guidelines which says: ‘Care-givers are advised not to feed street dogs close to residences not their own. They are also advised to avoid feeding street dogs immediately adjacent to areas which children play, or people take walk, or that are otherwise crowded. Moreover, feeding must not be done in a manner that contributes to littering or dirtying any feeding site. Caregivers are advised to clean up feeding sites after feeding is over.’

Managing committee floated amended Animal Pet policy on 21st April 2022 wherein allocated feeding zones in parking levels P1-P4 (crowded and frequently used amenity for walking / parking) were canceled and the Committee banned feeding in parking areas including hiring of external people to feed inside premises.

Managing committee is not against feeding stray dogs or animals but the same cannot be allowed in parking levels or any area of society which are defined as amenities where residents, kids, old people, and ladies are very frequent.

"Me as a Lady and the Chairperson of the society is very sensitive to the issue of dog feeding. My team never was and will ever be against dog feeding. Since we have been receiving multiple complaints from our fellow residents about children, pregnant mothers, old parents being attacked and chased by the dogs in the parking lot, we had to take cognisance of these complaints too. Our humble request is only to move the feeding space out of the parking areas. We have made many amicable attempts to resolve this issue internally" says Gayetri Khedekar, chairperson, Rustomjee Azziano CHSL.

“I was coming back from the office late at night around 11 pm on my 2-wheeler and I was surrounded by 3 dogs who were howling ferociously. Few days later, I had to admit one of my family members to hospital in an emergency during the early hours of the day at around 5 am. I had to wait for 15 mins to access my car as there were dogs at the entrance of the wing. Now who takes responsibility for the human lives which are at stake?” says Prasanna Abhyankar, another resident.

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