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How Chennai identified the dog-thrower

By T S Sudhir
July 05, 2016 19:42 IST
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The lack of compassion shown by the accused despite being medical students is shocking, says T S Sudhir.

It was a 10-hour operation that resulted in the identification of the man who had thrown a dog from a five-storey building in Chennai and the spot where the incident took place.

At around 4.30 pm on Monday, Chennai-based animal rights activist Antony Rubin was tagged in a 34-second-long video that showed a man in a white shirt holding a dog and flinging it down the building, leaving the canine yelping furiously when it landed with a thud. Since the person who had uploaded it was from Chennai, Rubin assumed the incident happened in Chennai.

He immediately filed a complaint with the Chennai police commissioner, who was also horrified seeing the video. The commissioner set up a seven-member team to identify the man. Meanwhile, the video went viral on social media, which helped the cops enormously in their job.

At around 9 pm, the police team and three animal rights activists -- including Rubin -- got their first tip-off that the man in the video is a final year medical student of Madha Medical College in Kundrathur near Porur on the outskirts of Chennai. He was identified as Gautam Sudarshan and the person who filmed the act was his classmate Ashish Pal.

The two hailed from Nagercoil and Tirunelveli respectively in southern Tamil Nadu. At 2.30 am, the team reached the building from where the dog was thrown. They also searched the room where the duo stayed in a private accommodation near the college, but was told that they have not been around for some days.

The video was reportedly shot two weeks ago. How it got leaked is still a mystery. The police has requested the parents of the two students to ask them to surrender. The chairman of the college has also told the parents that the two students won’t be allowed to write their exams unless they surrender.

Surrender seems the best option for the accused as the law is pretty toothless to deal with such cases. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the maximum fine that can be imposed for a crime of this nature is Rs 50 and three months imprisonment.

The Animal Welfare Board of India had urged for an increase in fine and prison term and approached Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to get the act amended. “The minister replied, saying that there is no need to increase the fine as India is a very compassionate country,” says N G Jayasimha, member of the Animal Welfare Board of India.

This incident, however, should serve as a wake-up call for the minister.

Moreover, the fact that the two accused are only a year away from becoming doctors has shocked civil society. “It is horrifying and probably a reflection on our education system and society as a whole. Wonder what are we teaching our students,” said Alokparna Sengupta, deputy director (India) of the Humane Society International, the NGO that announced a Rs 1 lakh reward for anyone providing leads to the accused.

Meanwhile, there is still no news of the dog. Rubin says there is no trace of any carcass below the building where it was thrown. Vets say even if it survived, it would have suffered multiple fractures.

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T S Sudhir in Chennai
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