In the ongoing takeover tussle between the UT administration and NGO Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Union minister Maneka Gandhi’s NGO, People for Animals (PFA), has also apparently jumped in. SPCA president Jasbir Ralhan told HT that “a woman who identified herself as Maneka Gandhi” called him from a Delhi number on Thursday questioned him that he had “taken away an air-cooler” from the SPCA animal shelter in Sector 38-west.
“The allegation is baseless anyway, but I was flabbergasted and can’t believe it could be her. We are doing our best ever since funding was stopped by the administration… I am already worried that once the administration takes over the SPCA, the PFA would become in charge. We don’t want that to happen in the garb of a government takeover,” Ralhan said.
When HT called the Delhi number from which Ralhan received the call, a security staffer who picked up confirmed that the number is of the PFA office set-up at 14, Ashoka Road, Delhi, which is Maneka’s listed permanent address. PFA’s Facebook page too shares the number. Maneka could not be contacted for confirmation — if indeed she had called or someone had posed as her — as her house staff said she was busy in Parliament.
This comes barely three weeks after Maneka called a doctor of an NGO in Patiala about anomalies and cruelty in the dog sterilisation drive being carried out under the aegis of the municipal corporation and administration there. Dr Imran Ali, engaged in the drive that was later stopped, had filed a complaint with the mayor against Maneka for “using abusive language” and asking him to “go to Pakistan”.
“Spurned people with vested interests are spreading lies about our NGO. That’s why we are getting calls from several quarters. We can even run the NGO ourselves, though, if the takeover does not happen,” Ralhan claimed.
TALKS STUCK, ANIMALS SUFFERING
Meanwhile, takeover talks between the UT administration and the SPCA are not moving over what is being seen as an ego issue. Both parties separately agree to the takeover after payoff of the NGO’s liabilities of around Rs 13 lakh.
The issue started after the administration stopped funding to the SPCA last year citing factionalism and mismanagement, particularly after Ralhan was elected president. In the absence of funding, staff at the SPCA shelter has remained unpaid for six months, and the illness-afflicted animals too are not getting treatment as the two staff doctors have left. At least one dog has died in the past week; verification of more death could not be carried out as entry to the premises is restricted.
WHO NEEDS WHOM
The administration had formed its own Society for Welfare of Animals (SWA) soon after stopping SPCA funding, with animal husbandry director Prince Dhawan at the helm. However, headquartered for now at the Sector 38-W government veterinary hospital, it does not have any dedicated premises. The administration has been citing a 2001 notification to press that the SPCA has to be a government body, or the existing NGO changes its name.
A takeover is preferred by the administration too as it would then get the well-built SPCA premises to operate from. Ralhan’s conditions for the takeover include that the liabilities be paid off, and certain members from the opposing faction that he had expelled be kept out.
Both parties are primarily stuck at the question of who would formally mediate. Ralhan said he had conveyed his conditions to a committee formed by the administration but wanted top officers to come forth. The officers do not want to get involved as Ralhan has in the past complained about their alleged arrogance. In the latest, a top MC official could hold a meeting “soon” to resolve the matter, it is learnt. Dhawan was not available for comment.