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The Indian Express, otherwise a reasonable, even if not very popular daily newspaper, carried an oped
sort of piece on July 27th 2020 entitled “Gone to the Dogs”. Mrs. Coomi Kapoor, “Consulting
Editor” for the Express, wrote this remarkably venomous article laden with lies which rivets to its
intent via the blurb: “A bizarre and unscientific policy is behind the menace of stray dogs all over
India”. The writer waffles, obfuscates, contradicts, lies, alleges, berates and generally hems and
haws like a crazed Banshee on free run. In the process, she lays bare (unwittingly I am sure)
dysfunctional, dangerous and venal cartels which swing between the poles of Government, NGOs
and RWAs. The phrase Ms Kapoor chose for her essay is believed to originate in ancient China. In
that unpopular country, dogs by tradition, were not permitted within cities. Consequently,
stray dogs roamed the areas outside and lived off the rubbish. It’s a different matter that the Yellow
Peril now lives on dog meat. I must confess that as first reaction I was bemused by the fact that Mrs.
Coomi Kapoor nee Kapadia, is of Parsi extraction. Pertinent, when you consider that the community
has been at the vanguard of progressive, informed opinions and a humane outlook. The Bombay Dog
Riots of 1832 (which incidentally featured a Nariman Kapadia as one of the pro dog rioters) and Mr.
Tata included. Nevertheless, cutting to the chase, a rebuttal to Coomi’s comatose writing from a
paradigm free of Cynophobia:
1. “BEING LOCKED IN during a pandemic has made me more conscious of the hazards of my
environment, most notably, the menacing stray dogs. A month back I was mauled by a rabid dog in a
park…On my neighbourhood WhatsApp group there are several horror stories of elderly persons and
children being bitten by stray dogs…”
1.1 It is strangely reflective that it took a lock-in for Mrs Kapoor to gain “more” consciousness of her
environment. If this is how she interprets the world with “more” consciousness, I dread to think of
what she understood with less and am petrified at what she may comprehend once fully conscious.
In different vein, it is an unfathomable question what a semi-conscious/ unconscious/ selectively
conscious journalist can be consulted editorially for, but that’s the newspaper’s business. For me, it
is tragi-comic that this consciousness settled on stray dogs to the exclusion of everything else on the
planet. That this exercised her to the extent that she was “mauled by a rabid dog”. The woman must
be indestructible; she is fairly coherent and alive after contracting rabies (which incidentally has no
cure and results in death). As an initial point in her narrative, it reveals the remarkably ridiculous
thesis she peddles.


As for neighbourhood WhatsApp groups, their form, content and calibre is anything but sensible.
Half-baked messages, rumours, speculations, cheap humour, silly video clips, tale-tattles, raucous
get-togethers and extrapolations of every inane thing is what they engage in. Questions of sense and
veracity of incestuous colony WhatsApp messages apart, the allusion to frail, angelic, one-foot-inthe-
grave-another-on-a-banana-peel geriatrics and untouched by guile, beatific children, is cunning
and crooked. Such creatures are a fantasy. For the most part niggardly geriatrics and ill-mannered,
insolent, insensate children torture and hit animals. And if a dog does so much as to bark, it births an
urban legend of deadly bites for WhatsApp groups in colonies to be quoted in newspapers.
2. “But in the eyes of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) the victims are really the dogs. An
AWBI circular actually comments that a person getting in the way of a dog ‘can be perceived as an
example of provocation’ …a vet is liable to be sued if he puts the biting dog to sleep at his master’s
request. The consequence of such a perverse law is that sometime back the owner of a rabid Great
Dane simply threw his dog over the Sunder Nagar nursery wall, where it bit and infected many other
canines and humans. “


2.1 The victims are the dogs indeed. Victims of parvenu attitudes, boorish people, corrupt officials,
the tainted NGOs industry, and imbeciles in general. The old adage “Give the dog a bad name and kill
him” is appropriate in this twisted new India with general degeneration. Dogs cannot defend
themselves, they cannot speak, cannot protest, cannot vote. So they suffer. And needlessly, and
unfairly.


Coomi Kapoor very dishonestly reproduces excerpts from an educative AWBI communication and
quotes it partially, out of context, to try and deride that organization. As for vets, the overwhelming
majority of them are businessmen. Several are illegal backyard breeders, and many lack credentials
which stand to scrutiny. As for the “master’s request” not all who keep pets want to look after old
dogs or ill dogs. These “requests” are what not just the AWBI but also the Veterinary Council of India
forbids, and for good reason. However, in the case of terminally ill, acutely suffering or rabid
animals, they prescribe a humane euthanasia. It is incredibly stupid to claim that putting a rabid dog
to sleep is proscribed; it is actually prescribed. Moreover, everybody has lived long enough in this
country to know how many and how much the law is followed. The writer’s agenda and lack of
credibility are exposed further when she talks of a pet owner who dumped his “rabid” Great Dane
across the wall. Fact is, a rabid animal can only be handled by an expert with special gear. It cannot
be tossed over a wall like the lies she peddles. Even if we buy her lie, she claims that it bit many
people and animals. How did she know about it? What did this great avenger do? Nothing. Surely, a
few phone calls to the private secretaries of ministers she knows so well (we learn of this
subsequently in her article) would have prevented this great tragedy. And definitely if her Great
Dane owning friend had been a responsible owner, deserving of a dog, he would have had the dog
inoculated in the first place, proactively. If he had, there would have been no case of rabies. If he
actually exists, not only is he irresponsible, he is cruel, callous and a public hazard in “dumping” an ill
and “rabid” animal. Coomi Kapoor, archangel of rabies and vaccinations never once mentions this.
Her venom is directed at stray dogs.


3. “Citing AWBI rules stray dog feeders frequently threaten residents who object to dog bowls at
their doorstep with an FIR charging ‘criminal intimidation’.”


3.1 Nizamuddin (both East and West) are tony addresses with some of the most expensive real
estate in the capital. She claims in an oblique sort of manner that those who feed stray dogs in these
colonies lack civic sense and feed dogs at the doorstep of protesting neighbours. Worse, they
threaten with false FIRs. And the shrinking violets merely roll over and surrender. She insults even a
brain dead reader’s intelligence with her idiotic fairy tale.


4.“Maneka Gandhi…still oversees the country’s bizarre policy on dogs for some two decades.
Officialdom and her political superiors have discreetly distanced themselves despite the
impracticality and unscientific nature of programmes with a cavalier disregard for health issues and
human suffering.”


“…After Gandhi was left out of the cabinet in Modi 2.0…Gandhi’s iron grip over her fiefdom is still
evident. Even the fiery Giriraj Singh confesses his ministry has really no effective powers. His private
secretary wonders why I should be apprehensive about retaliation from the ferocious dog
lobby—after all, even he had an FIR filed against him by these vigilantes…”


4.1 Let me assure Coomi Kapoor that Maneka Gandhi is not superwoman. She is not all-pervasive,
not implacable and not everlasting. I know this first hand from long drawn personal experience. It is
preposterous to say that MG has such staying power that she remote controls the government
whilst not being in it. In her half-awake, half-aware state of being “more conscious” the writer
ascribes fictional aspects to a former minister and once again suggests the impossibility that the
government of the day is beholden to MG or is in her thrall. She then ridiculously names a serving
minister and suggests that his powers are ineffectual and his ministry impotent. She then, by
implication accepts something wrong she had done which had her speak to the said minister’s
private secretary to save her hide. And this chap cocked a snook at the “ferocious dog lobby” while
disdainfully dismissing an FIR which can only be registered for a cognizable offence recognized under
the Indian Penal Code. It remains a mystery how the private secretary of an allegedly ineffectual
minister can wave away an FIR. Anyone visiting a police station to lodge an FIR will tell you it is a
near impossible feat.


5.“…residents of East Nizamuddin to their welfare association to ensure that the number of feeding
spots for stray dogs be cut down from a staggering 33—in a community of 270 houses-- to 10.
(ironically, the dogs are largely fed by paid employees of a woman who lives in a farmhouse miles
away from the colony and seldom visits. Like many dog feeders who shoulder none of the
responsibility which goes along with feeding an animal, she perhaps assumes she has earned her
place in heaven by her presumed charity.)”
“…the elderly in our colony were demonstrating aggressive behaviour by walking around with sticks
(the obvious reason, self-protection, eluded her). I recount my neighbourhood’s tale because it is a
microcosm of what is happening in the country today. The AWBI despite all its lofty claims, has not
compiled data on the dog population and vaccinations…Two internal reviews by the environment
ministry have acknowledged the failure of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) (dogs) rules, and pointed
out misappropriation of funds by some animal welfare organizations patronized by the AWBI”


5.1 Nizamuddin East has 286 houses and not 270 (I include Jaipur Estate, it lies within the confines
of that colony). The colony covers a very large area with wide open spaces. Dogs are territorial
animals, they do not leave their area or allow other dogs to enter it. The 33 feeding spots are just
about right. Incidentally, she contradicts her claims yet again: “dog bowls at their doorstep” is what
she said earlier. Now she says feeding spots. Very dishonestly and cleverly doesn’t mention that
these feeding spots have been identified and arrived at with mutual understanding between feeders
and the RWA. Now the RWA wants to arbitrarily reduce feeding spots to a fraction of the agreed and
operating number just because the ilk of Mrs. Kapoor decree so. Forget about playing fair or being
co-optive, this is illogical and malicious. Moving on, while the writer is no spring chicken, she
contradicts her earlier claim of the elderly being victims. They must be very belligerent victims with
sticks in a place which is a garrison of geriatrics. As for the lady who no longer lives in the Kapoor
neighbourhood but sends food, a vehicle and staff to feed the dogs, she should be applauded and
actually emulated. This woman is a caring, sensitive, humane person. She spends her own dollar to
do something which only earns her the ire of a toxic people. As for heaven and hell, neither exist
except here. We make our own dimension. The feeding lady is in heaven with satisfaction and joy,
the gratitude of other beings. The Consulting Editor is in hell with anger, hatred, resentment, ill-will.
To each their own.


As for the AWBI, like much else in this country, it is dysfunctional and moth-eaten. Between tea
parties and embezzlements, pompous chairmen and silver tongued Board members it never was
what it should have been. Then, it went to an individual who ran nefarious gaushalas and who
plugged it with all manner of moonfaced goons while eulogising himself and his wife. Now it is
headed by some faceless bureaucrat who is as callous as incompetent. AWBI shuffles its paces, is a
vehicle for hire, incompetent, corrupt and utterly useless. The question is why on earth did Mrs.
Kapoor not wage war against it. There was and still is, good reason to. AWBI is after all a perpetrator
of woes for her and she knows it harboured thieves. A journalist needs a good story. Here’s one
presenting itself for years, but she doesn’t deign to pick it up.


6.“ABC rules contravene all Indian state municipal acts which mandate removal of straying animals
from streets and public places, both for the protection of people and animals.”
6.1 No, they do not. Kapoor once again attempts to drive her agenda here in clubbing two different
issues together. The Animal Birth Control Rules (Dogs) are grounded in unimpeachable scientific fact
and are seconded by the World Health Organization. These rules define a perfect end-to-end model
for managing stray dogs. She also misses the point that many stray dogs are community dogs. Per
many high courts of India, dogs are companion animals, are a part of family/community. There are
orders that substantiate the same and save them from any discrimination, including right to use
property, space, etc. Imposing restrictions on community dogs violates the fundamental rights of
citizens and directive principles of state policy, besides violating rulings of all the several courts. Civil
Appeal No. 5387 of 2014 & SLP 11686 of 2007, via the final judgment by the apex court has detailed
the five rights of animals that cannot be violated by any by-law, rule of the municipal or state acts.
That order also mentions how municipal acts/ laws that violate any of these rights should be
considered annulled and cannot cause subjugation of rights of animals and animal
owners/lovers/caregivers.


As for stray animals other than dogs, where are they? The cattle have been butchered or sent to die
horribly in gaushalas or pinjrapoles which hide some of the most corrupt, evil, exploitative and
criminal practices including starvation, overcrowding, smuggling, disease, beatings, sexual
exploitation. The list of sins runs long. Equines are no exception. Kapoor couches her intent in
“protection of people and animals”. She is a hater of animals and in that stands with an increasing
number of similar people. What Mrs Kapoor may do well to remember that stray animals are victims
on every count. Their pastures have been concretised, their food sources have been destroyed, their
habitats have been erased. That last thread of Indian civilizational value, compassion, is now being
cut. Mrs Kapoor in hubris and arrogance waves her hand to wish away everyone and everything
which offends her mistaken and misshapen sensibilities.


7.“…our neighbouring countries have performed fairly well by adopting scientific
principles…According to government records there were six million dog bites in 2017.”
7.1 Which neighbouring countries does she talk about? Pakistan layered with its innate character,
kills dogs by the thousands. Places like Karachi have them piled on streets. Other towns in that
country go about their business less demonstrably. Thankfully Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and even
Bangladesh are spared of this pathological disease of culling. Instead of making bald statements, the
writer should understand that there is no other scientific, sustainable and humane solution than
CNVR: catch, neuter, vaccinate and release. It is enshrined in the ABC rules she so detests. As for
government records, these are managed, guessed, cooked-up. Unrecorded, unverified, unaudited
data. She would do better in checking what caused the dog bites. Feral dogs, every animal actually,
avoids humans. The first instinct is to flee. It is only man who causes pain unnecessarily and knowing
it to be so.


8.“In 2010 Justice V K Jain of the Delhi High Court overturned the combined wisdom of the country’s
civic laws and disregarded the recommendations of the apostle of ahimsa, Mahatma Gandhi, whose
well considered opinion on the advisability of the elimination of stray dogs is a matter of record…”


8.1
To the disappointment of those who hate dogs, Justice Jain delivered an exceptionally enlightened
judgement which has been maintained by the apex court as well. It is a judgement very keenly
thought out, based on unimpeachable, verifiable scientific fact, and grounded in the credo: do the
right thing. It recognizes those who take care of stray animals, including dogs, as people rendering
an essential and useful social service. It enjoins the police to protect these people. It recognizes the
Constitutional obligations of citizens and facilitates them. As for Gandhi, his inconstancies and
dangerous postulations apart, his views on cow slaughter, women, sex, the military, Pakistan are
imported from Planet Zog. It is common Indian disease to believe the sun emerges from one
favoured posterior or another. I assure the writer it rises in the east. Since she is only “more
conscious” not completely conscious, she calls the man who advocated mass killing of stray dogs an
“apostle of peace”. Effeminate shape-shifting impotence certainly, peace certainly not. As for
apostles, none were identified after the original 12 and then St. Matthias if you consider the
expulsion of Judas. As for saints, the door is not as firmly shut. Most unfortunately, as a nonbaptized
deceased heathen, Mahatma Gandhi does not qualify. Christian theology and ecclesiology
would be horrified at Mrs Kapoor’s attempt to sneak him in.


9. “But after eight years, the Supreme Court is in no hurry to pass an order, which would greatly
benefit our unprotected street children.”


9.1 Mrs Kapoor takes umbrage at the apex court for refusing to order the mass killing of stray dogs.
God have mercy. I as a co-petitioner in the ongoing matter before the Hon’ble Supreme Court
rulings dated January 24, 2009 (Animal Welfare Board of India Vs People For the Elimination of Stray
Dogs, Record of Proceedings 265025) Vide SLP (C) 691/2009 and consider it my duty to enlighten her
that the hon'ble bench vide a series of interim orders between 2015 and 2016 reiterated this stay
order so that no confusion remains and has thus categorically restricted all municipal corporations
from implementing whole or parts of municipal and state acts that concern dogs (strays as well as
pets) until the hon'ble court announces final judgment on grave conflict matters related to
constitutionality of the central and municipal acts. The same bench has restricted all States via their
Chief Secretaries, to refrain the state from taking any measures that conflict with rights of dogs as
well as violate central acts and provisions of the constitution. Even the Hon'ble High Courts of every
state have been restricted against entertaining any PIL related to dogs.


It observed that illegal and punishable actions carried out against dogs are also harassment of
citizens who look after animals and amount to creating hysteria. She may like to note that the semi
adopted street dogs that are now protected by the orders of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi
(applicable to NCR), and the Hon’be Supreme Court of India, will be directly affected by this.
Provocative ill-intentioned rants create panic and acute pain to compassionate citizens. People who
keep pets/take care of strays consider them as their own children. Social friction induced by such
action can become the reason for community conflict.
It has been a long one, this counter to Mrs. Commi Kapoor, Consulting Editor, The Indian Express. As
I rest my hand, she reminds me of Little Miss Muffet. A spider merely sat down beside her and Miss
Muffet raised hell. For all Mrs. Kapoor’s lies, dogs have good taste. They studiously avoid her and her
ilk.


My disgust for her dangerous rant and fabricated lies notwithstanding, I would fail myself if I do not
commiserate with her most unfortunate condition. To me it appears to be a case of Cynophobia: “A
person who has Cynophobia experiences a fear of dogs that is both irrational and persistent…this
fear may interfeare with daily life…Specific phobias like Cynophobia are common enough that they
are formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition
DSM -5, U.S).”


I should explain further, useful service to the editor, the geriatric club as well as the varicose veins
society – To be formally diagnosed with a specific phobia like Cynophobia, you must have
experienced your symptoms for six months or longer. If you’ve noticed your fear of dogs has started
to impact your daily life, you may want to keep a personal journal to share with your doctor. Ask
yourself: Do I excessively anticipate situations in which I’m going to be around dogs? Do I
immediately feel fear or have a panic attack while I’m around dogs or think about being around
dogs? Do I recognize that my fear of dogs is severe and irrational? Do I avoid situations in which I
may encounter dogs? If you answered yes to these questions, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
can be incredibly effective. Exposure therapy is a form of CBT where people face fears head-on.
For good measure, in a bark from the past, here’s counsel for the Consulting Editor: the Bombay Dog
Riots happened on July 6th 1832 a day holy to the Parsis. The teachings of Ehtiram-i-Sag (great
respect for the dog) are in the Avesta. Dogs are gate-keepers of the heavens and a gaze of the dog
wards off evil. It may be coincidence that Ms Kapoor, nee Kapadia, writes her gibberish in the month
of July. Yet, it is absolutely certain that dogs have looked her in the eye and very squarely at that.
She wrote a rant, a rant it shall remain. In assuring me of this, the stray dogs of Nizamuddin East also
told me that “the average dog is a nicer person than the average person”.


An unsolicited but offered nevertheless prescription for the Consulting Editor is to take clinical help,
stop evil agenda, desist from lying, cultivate compassion. If that’s impossible, get out of the way
because dogs have their days, and they have their nights. Since 100,000 years and for the next
100,000.