Why did the Central Bureau of Investigation raid the Animal Welfare Board of India?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2007:
CHENNAI, MUMBAI, MYSORE, DELHI, THIRUVANATHAPURAM–One of
the noisiest and farthest-reaching scandals in the often
controversial 47-year history of the Animal Welfare Board of India
may prove to be less about corruption and bribery, when the Central
Bureau of Investigation concludes months of digging, than about
pursuit of mostly symbolic tribute by some AWBI appointees, and
redress of injured pride by some who have been rebuked.
Disputes over the allocation of grant money, partisan
politics, and enforcement of laws governing livestock transportation
and slaughter have become involved.
Yet–from statements and copies of inside correspondence
obtained by ANIMAL PEOPLE–pursuit of public stature and vengeance
for past frustrations and humiliations appears to have most visibly
motivated the persons whose charges instigated CBI raids on several
animal welfare organizations, the homes of their officers, and the
Animal Welfare Board of India offices in Chennai.


Some of the instigators–or persons who claim to be
instigators–are seething over having been berated or denounced by
People for Animals founder, former cabinet minister for animal
welfare, member of Parliament, and longtime Animal Welfare Board
member Maneka Gandhi, who has notoriously little patience with
vanity and self-aggrandizement. Yet none of the allegations
investigated by the CBI directly involve Maneka Gandhi, or any
organization she heads.
Some complainants have disputes with other ranking AWBI
members, who are not aligned with Maneka Gandhi. And the
allegations forwarded to the CBI appear to have been hurled not as a
conspiracy so much as a matter of complainants with a variety of only
casually related grievances suddenly perceiving a chance to pursue
them.
Along the way, some complainants hit each other. For every
person who joined in the attack, mostly through electronic media,
several others who have had public conflicts with Maneka Gandhi and
other targets of the CBI raids e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE to distance
themselves from the whole affair.
Caught in the middle, with the membership of the Animal
Welfare Board and his own position due for reappointment, is Animal
Welfare Board president R.M. Kharb, a retired general who decades
ago was veterinarian to both Sonia Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi. Both
married sons of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Sonia and Maneka Gandhi, each widowed long ago, were
reputedly never friends even when both lived in Indira Gandhi’s
household.
Sonia Gandhi is now president of the Indian National
Congress, leader of the Congress Party, and chair of the United
Progressive Alliance, the governing Parlia-mentary coalition.
Maneka Gandhi, a member of the Bharatija Janata Party, was
the dominant figure within the Animal Welfare Board while the BJP
headed the Parliamentary majority.
Kharb was named to head the Animal Welfare Board after the
UPA displaced the BJP. Though the Animal Welfare Board is nominally
non-partisan, political patronage has often figured in the board
composition. Under Kharb, the Animal Welfare Board delegated more
responsibilities to UPA insiders, and reduced the prominence and
influence of the People for Animals network, widely perceived as
Maneka Gandhi’s support base, although the many chapters function
almost completely autonomously. Some PfA chapters have alleged that
promised grants from the Animal Welfare Board have been delayed by as
much as two years, though ANIMAL PEOPLE found no consistent pattern
in a poll of about 20 PfA organizations.

S.K. Mittal

Among the UPA supporters whom Kharb most trusted was Mysore
businessman S.K. Mittal, a first-time Animal Welfare Board appointee
with relatively little background in animal welfare. Mittal was put
in charge of AWBI business in the states of Kerala and Karnataka.
When the Supreme Court of India asked the AWBI to inspect the
slaughterhouses in Kerala and submit a report, in response to a
lawsuit brought by vegetarian activist Laxmi Narain Modi, Mittal was
delegated to do the inspections.
Mittal visited 15 slaughterhouses in just four days.
“On the 5th of January 2007 he started his whirlwind
inspection tour with heavy fanfare, press meetings, and police
escort,” alleged veterinarian John “Jose” Yohanan, who complained
about Mittal’s conduct to the Animal Welfare Board. “He claimed that
he was the ‘Supreme Court Commission’ and asked for government guest
houses, a government car, police guard and police escort. Animal
Husbandry Department and local officials were supposed to be at his
beck and call.”
Yohanan questioned whether Mittal actually did any serious
inspecting, given the distances covered on his itinerary, the
amount of time he spent in meetings and press conferences, and the
many misspelled or misidentified place names in Mittal’s report.
Yohanan further questioned whether Mittal visited several
slaughterhouses at all, claiming fellow veterinarians had not been
able to confirm his presence.
“The Mittal Commission Report opens with a color photo of the
gentleman and a bombastic biography,” Yohanan wrote. A copy of the
report forwarded by Mittal himself confirmed that the lengthy bio
included– among other trivia–a list of prominent people whom Mittal
said he had shaken hands with.
The two-part report offers checklists of concerns about
slaughterhouses, and brief descriptions of what Mittal saw.
Ten times Mittal wrote, “Condition of slaughterhouse is very
poor, unhygenic & violating all the norms. No separate enclosures
for slaughtering. Waste management system is not proper.
Destination of disposal of carcasses is not known. Illegal
slaughterhouses found in the surroundings.”
Five times Mittal wrote, “Since there is no registered
slaughterhouse, illegal slaughtering flourishes. There was
slaughtering of cattle also and were found selling beef. The cattle
were slaughtered just in front of the stalls. Most of these stalls
are in the heart of the city & in residential areas. Very ugly scene
& no action initiated by the civic authorities.”
But the size and flamboyance of Mittal’s entourage–whom he
named in an e-mail to ANIMAL PEOPLE–ensured that there were plenty
of witnesses to his at least fleeting presence at each
slaughterhouse. ANIMAL PEOPLE obtained confirmation of Mittal’s
visits from independent witnesses.
The entourage was necessary, Mittal asserted, because “At
one place I went without escort and faced life attack and my car was
totally smashed by miscreants.”
Added Mittal, “How much time you feel that one has to spend
in one slaughterhouse visit? Thirty minutes, one hour.”
Yohanan had further complaints.
“A colleague of mine told me that the AWBI through their
member S.K. Mittal allowed the Kakkur Cattle Race,” on February 25,
2007, Yohanan wrote. The race, held for more than 120 years, has
long been controversial for alleged abuse of cattle.
“One of my fellow vets who was a dumb witness wrote me that
it was only because of Mittal that the race took place,” Yohanon
alleged. “At first Mittal asked for certificates [of health] from
cattle owners and announced to the media that there would not be any
race. Soon ex-minister T.M.Jacob, who is the patron of the race,
sent someone to talk to him,” and the race began, despite a protest
march by opponents.
Video of the race affirmed Mittal’s presence, but did not
show the award ceremony, at which Yohanan alleged–from second-hand
testimony–that Mittal was on the dais.
Responded Mittal, “As AWBI member in charge of the Karnataka
and Kerala Regional Sub Committee of AWBI, I received information
that the Kakkur Cattle Race attracts hundreds of participants from
different parts of Kerala and nearby states. Though there is no ban
on cattle races, we do have cattle transportation rules. I informed
the district administration, the SPCA Ernakulam, and Animal
Husbandry Department officials, and went myself to initiate proper
action if any violation was noticed.
“T.C. Jacob welcomed and requested me to address gathering,”
Mittal said, “and he also appreciated the AWBI taking action.”

Alligators

Yohanan further asserted that, “S.K.Mittal made a visit to
the Kerala capital,” Thiruvanathapuram, “on May 3,” after Maneka
Gandhi visited to support the Animal Rights Kerala street dog
sterilization program. The program had been interrupted by a dispute
between ARK and the city over the municipal practice of killing dogs
who have already been sterilized. According to Yohanan, Mittal
approved of the Thiruvanathapuram practices and offered the city AWBI
funding.
“Mittal then went to the house of Mrs. Leila Latheef of
People for Animals- Trivandrum, and went to the PfA shelter,”
Yohanan wrote. “The shelter was already inspected by Mittal himself
earlier, and later by the vice chairman of the Animal Welfare Board.
He called the vice chairman a criminal and accused him of receiving
favors. He asked Mrs. Latheef to meet him personally in his room
after 8 p.m. with the utilization certificate, which she refused to
do.”
Latheef also complained to the AWBI about Mittal’s visit.
“He was very rude to us when he inspected us and we sent a
written complaint against him,” Latheef affirmed to ANIMAL PEOPLE,
accusing Mittal of “conspiring with the city to demoralise PfA.”
E-mailed Mittal, “All the allegations were found baseless
and without any truth. Now the [Animal Welfare] Board has decided
that if any allegations against members are lodged and found false,
the board will take legal action against the alligator [sic].”
Mittal later corrected his phrasing, after ANIMAL PEOPLE
noted the error, but added that the people accusing him and the
editor of ANIMAL PEOPLE are “worse than alligators.”
The next allegations against members of the AWBI appear to
have come from Mittal himself.
“In July 2007 the Central Bureau of Investigation raided the
office of the AWBI on a complaint filed by Mittal,” an AWBI member
told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “and took away files. The secretary kept this
matter hidden on the instructions of Mittal.”
Copies of the CBI report about the July raid show no
indication that any wrongdoing was found. ANIMAL PEOPLE also
obtained copies of police receipts showing that some Animal Welfare
Board documents were seized even earlier, in mid-June.
The CBI investigation became public knowledge after a second
series of raids began on September 28, 2007, hitting the Blue Cross
of India head office in Chennai and the Chennai homes of three Animal
Welfare Board senior officials.
New Indian Express writer K. Praveen Kumar alleged on
September 29, 2007, citing an unnamed “senior CBI official,” that
“The CBI anti-corruption bureau reportedly unearthed a major grant
misappropriation scam,” and “suspects the involvement of” the Blue
Cross.
But the only published reports about the raids at that point
were by Kumar.
And Blue Cross of India chief executive Chinny Krishna, a
past member of the Animal Welfare Board, had not been a member in
three and a half years–not within Kharb’s tenure as board president.

Naresh Kadyan

The Kumar articles were promptly posted to animal advocacy
web sites around the world, with commentary by Naresh Kadyan of
PfA-Haryana, and later by Mittal.
Kadyan was once included in the national PfA network, but
Maneka Gandhi broke off relations with him after he repeatedly
accused others of corruption in which he himself was later alleged to
have been involved.
Most prominently, police in Jhajjar on June 3, 2005
recovered two guns, ammunition, and the remains of two rabbits and
a legally protected blackbuck from a car occupied by former Indian
national cricket team captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and several of
his friends. Notified of the find, Maneka Gandhi dispatched Kadyan
to recover the blackbuck carcass and take it to the Delhi Zoo for
forensic necropsy.
On June 22, 2005 Narendra Kaushik of the Mumbai Mirror
published Kadyan’s claim that Pataudi’s son, actor Saif Ali Khan,
had tried to bribe him from giving testimony. Kaushik also published
Khan’s denial.
Unclear, inasmuch as Kadyan’s role in the case was only as a
courier of evidence, and since the primary evidence had already been
examined and documented by the Jhajjar police, was why bribing
Kadyan–even if it had been done–might have had any effect on the
outcome.
But Kadyan has milked his part for considerable publicity,
and has styled himself in updates about the Pataudi prosecution
posted to the Asian Animal Protection Network as “Whistle blower of
the poaching case.”
More about the alleged bribery attempt surfaced from Puneet
Nicholas Yadav of the Mumbai Daily News & Analysis on November 19,
2006.
“Wildlife activist Naresh Kadyan, a witness in the case,
wants to help Pataudi – but for a price,” Yadav wrote. Tipped that
Kadyan was seeking fundraising help from Pataudi and Khan, Yadav
posed as a go-between, and with the source of the tip, “met
Kadyan,” Yadav recounted.
“When asked how his withdrawal from the case would help
Pataudi, Kadyan said, ‘I am the key witness. Once I withdraw, the
case would fall apart.’ When asked about how it was possible for him
to revert on his statement in court, given that he has been
appearing in the case from the beginning, Kadyan said, ‘Everything
can be bought. Leave that to me.'”
Kadyan also admitted, according to Yadav, that he had never
spoken to the middleman he named in the alleged attempt by Khan to
bribe him, and that the man “was unnecessarily dragged into the case
due to his proximity to Maneka Gandhi, whom Kadyan wanted to
‘destroy.'”
“I no longer work with Maneka since she is hogging publicity
due to her work as a wildlife activist while I am not getting any
benefit. Even I want name, fame and money. Why should Maneka walk
away with all the credit?” Kadyan reportedly told Yadav.
When Yadav identified himself and asked for comment, Kadyan
said, “I do have a soft corner for Pataudi, given the fact that he
has served the country. If Pataudi agrees to leave consuming
non-vegetarian food and promises never to hunt animals again, my
stand in the case may change.”
Kadyan “dodged questions on what he meant by ‘changing his
stand in the case,'” Yadav wrote.
On July 25, 2007, Kadyan e-mailed to news media, “I Naresh
Kadyan here demand that PFA Trust managed by Maneka Gandhi also be
placed under CBI net,” along with a list of PfA affiliates in which
she is involved.
On September 8, 2007, Kadyan widely forwarded a New Delhi
Television report that “Bhavin Gathani, who claims to be Gandhi’s
personal secretary, has been accused of collecting extortion money
for slaughtering animals instead of saving them.”
Maneka Gandhi, the NDTV report concluded, “told NDTV that
Gathani had booked many butchers for cruelty to animals and that she
had always supported him” when butchers and livestock transporters
made false allegations about him to the police.
Calling Gathani “an excellent and brave animal welfare
worker,” based on his reputation and record of the past 10 years,
Maneka Gandhi told ANIMAL PEOPLE that “Apart from the fact that I
have never met him, I believe he was totally innocent, and I was
proved right when the police arrested his accusers.”
But the allegation directed at Gathani and amplified by NDTV
and Kadyan turned out to have followed Kadyan himself for some time,
along with an allegation that he had spent Animal Welfare Board of
India funds to build a yoga center.
ANIMAL PEOPLE was not able to establish just exactly who did
what involving alleged bribes, butchering, and livestock transport.
The Indian meat industry is so notoriously corrupt that a recent
federal affidavit asserts that only 71 of the 456 known
slaughterhouses in India are in compliance with hygiene and pollution
control standards. The affidavit was filed in connection with Laxmi
Narain Modi’s most recent attempt to close illegal slaughterhouses,
following the effort that produced Mittal’s inspection report.
But ANIMAL PEOPLE confirmed that promoting yoga is among the
incorporated purposes of PfA Haryana, and that yoga is prominent
among the activities described at the PfA Haryana web site.
“Mrs. Maneka Gandhi is not a symbol of animal rights
movements in India,” Kadyan e-mailed in response to questions from
ANIMAL PEOPLE. “She made baseless false allegations against me. If
I got some informations then this is my duty to inform my friends & I
am ready to face each & every thing as I am a iron man.”

Gouhar Azeez

The allegations triggering the September 27 CBI raids,
however, appear to have come from Gouhar Azeez, the Muslim founder
and president of an organization called Bharatiya Prani Mitra Sangh.
Though Bharatiya Prani Mitra Sangh emphasizes cow protection,
it addresses many animal issues. In 2003, after ANIMAL PEOPLE
sponsored a speaking tour of India by Gerardo Vicente, DVM, of the
McKee Project in Costa Rica, Bharatiya Prani Mitra Sangh was among
the first Indian groups to endorse the “no kill, no shelters”
approach to sterilization and street dog control that has proved
successful in Costa Rica.
Aligned with Hindu and Jain social conservatives, Azeez had
been perceived as a favorite of Maneka Gandhi. Her most prominent
recent achievement was winning a December 2006 order from the Madras
High Court against camel slaughter during the 2007 Muslim “Feast of
Atonement.”
But only three days later the Madras High Court reversed
itself and instead “directed local health officials and Public Health
Officers to certify the site/place of slaughtering and check the
health condition of the animals,” reported The Hindu.
More than nine months afterward, Azeez in an e-mail to Maneka
Gandhi blamed the reversal on Animal Welfare Board vice chair Appaji
Rao and the AWBI staff, several of whom had apparently voiced
differences with Azeez over legal strategy.
“They took a huge amount form the butchers and vacated the
stay order. All those animals were killed,” Azeez wrote. “When I
complained to the chairman, Dr. Kharb, he promised that he would
take stringent action against the culprits. But later nobody
bothered about the cruelty inflicted to the animals.”
Blue Cross of India chief executive Chinny Krishna questioned
Rao at Maneka Gandhi’s request, but why Azeez imagined that the AWBI
even could have influenced the High Court reversal was never clear.
Meanwhile, Azeez on September 9, 2007 wrote to Indian prime
minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, urging that none of the
sitting Animal Welfare Board be reappointed, “otherwise the entire
government money will be looted.”
Azeez continued with several paragraphs of allegations
against Rao and former AWBI executive secretary R. Balasubraman-ian,
but offered few specifics and no supporting documentation.
“All the funding to the board must be stopped immediately,
and the ministry should take charge of the entire funding,” Azeez
recommended. “Since this is only an advisory board they need not get
involved in the distribution of funds. ”
Azeez also suggested that “A senior account officer must be
appointed or deputed preferably from New Delhi,” where R.
Balasubramanian now works.
Unlike most other Indian government agencies, the Animal
Welfare Board has always been based in Chennai.
Incoherant as the Azeez letter was, language parallel to it
appeared in statements attributed to an anonymous CBI official by K.
Praveen Kumar in his articles for the New Indian Express about the
September 28 raids.

Who was raided

Chinny Krishna told ANIMAL PEOPLE that the raids, early on a
Friday morning, hit the former home of R. Balasub-ramanian, the
home of present AWBI secretary K. Ramaswamy, who has served the
Animal Welfare Board in various capacities for about 30 years, and
the home of AWBI member S. Ravindran.
In addition, Krishna said, “A team of CBI people came to
the Blue Cross and said that they wanted to see the files and papers
pertaining to the grants we received from the Animal Welfare Board of
India. During the six-hour search by five people,” Krishna
recounted, “the only discrepancy they found was that a certificate
given by Ambattur municipality for one quarter stated that over 400
dogs had been spayed and vaccinated by the Blue Cross, whereas our
chief veterinarian Dr. T. P. Sekar certified only around 200 dogs in
the totals we furnished to the Board.
“It was pointed out that we gave a lesser number,” Krishna
continued. “The CBI official wanted to know why, and I told him
that this question should be directed at the Ambattur municipality.”
While the Blue Cross claimed to have done fewer
sterilizations than Ambattur said were done, K. Praveen Kumar on
October 1, 2007 quoted his anonymous source as alleging that humane
societies “conduct Animal Birth Control on limited numbers of dogs
and then create documents to prove that they have done it on a larger
number and collect extra money.”
Continued Kumar, “According to highly placed sources in the
CBI, they have got substantial evidence about the mis-utilization of
Central Government grants by the majority” of participants in the
national Animal Birth Control program.
As well as echoing Azeez, the allegations echoed claims made
by public officials in Bangalore and Hyderabad earlier in 2007,
after several fatal attacks by dogs in areas not actually within the
service radius of any ABC programs brought a hue-and-cry for
dismantling the local ABC programs and resuming killing dogs.
Before the introduction of ABC, hiring dogcatchers was an
important source of patronage jobs for office holders cultivating
illiterate support.
But despite the eagerness of some of the Bangalore and
Hyderabad populists to put dog-killers back on the payroll, no
mismanagement or misuse of funds by any of the Bangalore and
Hyderabad nonprofit Animal Birth Control programs was ever documented.
In the ten years since the Animal Birth Control approach
became Indian national policy, significant corruption has been
documented only in ABC programs managed by municipal governments.
Kumar’s anonymous CBI source acknowledged that any specific
allegations would have to “be substantiated after validation of
documents.”
No charges were immediately filed, or even mentioned as pending.
Krishna characterized the New Indian Express coverage as
“vague, unsubstantiated, and irresponsible.”
Said Krishna, “There have been allegations against the
officials of the Animal Welfare Board of India that grant moneys are
not being properly given. I was specifically told by a Mr.
Krishnamurthy of the CBI that there were some corruption charges
received against some board officials.
“To be fair to the officials,” Krishna said, “they process
the grants after the grants are approved by the Animal Welfare Board,
which consists of 28 people. However, inspections are carried out
by paid Board employees,” Krishna acknowledged. The inspectors’
recommendations help the Animal Welfare Board members in their
deliberations about which projects to fund, in what amounts. Unlike
the Animal Welfare Board staff, the board members serve without pay.
“Considering that a total of about $2 million U.S. is divided
up among several hundred groups, there is not much to go around,”
Krishna observed.

Icebergs in India?

“Fund mis-utilization by the Blue Cross is tip of an
iceberg,” Kumar further quoted the anonymous alleged senior CBI
official. “We have got enough material to show that many such
organizations have been indulging in similar activities. Our Cochin
unit officers raided the People for Animals office at
Thiruvananthapuram,” for example, where supposedly “PfA members
diverted the grant allocated for animal shelter construction and used
it for their own house construction.”
Thiruvanathapuram was formerly known as Trivandrum.
“There have been raids on our trustees’ residences,”
PfA-Trivandrum chief executive Leela Latheef acknowledged to ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “We are being questioned every day by the CBI, and being
unnecessarily harassed for even small administrative blunders.”
At issue, Latheef said, is how PfA Trivandrum has used an
Animal Welfare Board grant for shelter construction.
“We were paid the shelter grant two years back and our
shelter is nearing completion,” Latheef told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We will
start operating it in its incomplete state because we are hard
pressed for shelter space. We have not applied for Animal Birth
Control funds,” Latheef said, “because we don’t want to apply
before we get our hospital functional. But we are having some severe
problems with the Animal Welfare Board,” Latheef admitted. “They
inspected our shelter premises and then sent us a ‘show cause’ notice
asking us why we should not be penalized for violations in utilizing
the grant.”
The alleged violations, Latheef said, are that “The
shelter is located far from the city; according to the municipal
records, there are not many dogs in the area; we have not signed a
memo of understanding [to do Animal Birth Control] with the city;
and we don’t have valid building permits.
“Our shelter is only 13 kilometers from the city, and is
located in a quiet area because we do not want city people
complaining about noise and other kinds of pollution,” Latheef
explained. “The city’s own ABC program was stalled for about two
years by people who did not want dogs in the veterinary center in
the middle of the city.”
The only dog counts done in the shelter vicinity, Latheef
said, are of pets brought to the local veterinary hospital for
treatment. No one has done a street dog census, but on average the
Indian street dog population is two to three times the pet dog
population when ABC programs begin, defining “pet” as any dog who is
regularly fed by the same people.
PfA-Trivandrum has not contracted to do ABC with the city of
Thiruvanathapuram, Latheef said, because the present city
administration has balked at working with humane organizations.
The first ABC program in the city, begun in 2003 by Animal
Rights Kerala, in September 2006 trained 25 dogcatchers to assist a
municipal ABC program that never got started. Instead, the
dogcatchers “used all the information we had given them to go out and
kill all the dogs in Thiruvanatha-puram and surrounding areas,
including our sterilized dogs,” alleged ARK founder Avis Lyons.
When Lyons tried to intervene against a round-up of
sterilized dogs in February 2007, she was charged with assault.
Paid per dog caught, the catchers subsequently hired
themselves out to catch and kill dogs in other cities.
“We have not been given any clarification by the Animal
Welfare Board regarding how our building permits are deficient,”
Latheef told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We have written many letters and
reminders in response to their ‘show cause’ notices, but have not
received even one reply.
“Another allegation against us,” Latheef added, “is that we
are building a guest house and not a shelter.” This allegation
originated, Latheef guessed, because the structure that is to house
puppies and the PfA-Trivandrum administrative offices “has three
bathrooms in it and looks good.”

Blue Cross rebuttal

“We suspect large-scale diversion and misappropriation of
grants in many Chennai organizations also,” Kumar of the New India
Express quoted the anonymous CBI official.
“The Blue Cross has nothing to hide,” responded Chinny
Krishna. “We can categorically state that we have given nothing to
any official of the Animal Welfare Board for any grants sanctioned.
In fact, we have been consistently given 75 rupees less on each dog
we have spayed than the 445 rupees we are supposed to get, since we
are not paid for the catching and transportation component. Dogs
caught outside the Madras corporation limits account for about 50% of
the dogs we fix,” Krishna explained.
“These dogs are caught, transported and returned by our
vehicles and staff. Only those dogs caught by the city inside the
city limits are caught by the city dog catchers,” Krishna said,
“and even these dogs are returned to their original locations by the
Blue Cross staff, using our vehicles.
“Most importantly,” Krishna said, “we were funded by the
Animal Welfare Board for only a portion of the Animal Birth Control
program work we have done. In 2006-2007,” for example, “they
funded 7,000 surgeries,” Krishna said, “but we did close to 10,000
in Chennai and suburbs, not including the 4,500 we did in
Kanchipuram.”
Some Indian animal welfare organizations are chiefly funded
by government grants, Krishna acknowledged, but grants to the Blue
Cross amount to barely more than a sixth of the total organizational
budget, and less than half of the total cost of the Blue Cross’s
Animal Birth Control program.

“Tried to prevent gossips”

A memo from a senior official in the Indian Ministry of
Environment & Forests, forwarded to ANIMAL PEOPLE from several
different sources who obtained it, identified Mittal as bragging
“that he was the person who engineered the CBI raids on many PFAs and
Blue Cross.”
Asked what substantial information he might have had to give
to the CBI, Mittal said, “It is better known to CBI and the AWOs
raided by them. If I know also I will not pass on. I am not the
complainant,” Mittal protested further. “I may be having
information with me, but I am not going to speak at this juncture as
an investigating agency is in action and official secrecy prevents
me. I have not attacked of my own but tried to prevent the gossips
spread by others.”
Mittal also asserted that speculation unsuccessful grant
applicants were behind the allegations against the Animal Welfare
Board and Blue Cross was a “clear attack on the United Progressive
Alliance,” without explaining why he thought this might be clear to
anyone.
Mittal refused to comment on suggestions from several
directions that his role in the CBI investigation began when word
leaked from the prime minister’s office that he would not be
reappointed, due to complaints from other members.
Asked one AWBI member, “Why does Mittal and his gang of
assorted meat traders want to be on the board? Because the Supreme
Court order asking the AWBI to inspect slaughterhouses is an open
invitation to make money from illegal slaughterhouse owners.”
Be that as it may, Mittal’s major recommendation for
improving the governance of slaughterhouses was “to suggest the onus
be shifted from civic bodies & be put on the animal owner [or] person
offering the animal for slaughter and taking the carcass to the meat
stall.”
Individual veterinarians, rather than civil service
employees, would be paid by the sellers to inspect the animals and
carcasses, a system likely to produce administrative chaos, losing
any hope of accountability.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *