Manjula Ganesan says when she moved to a house in Maduravoyal, Chennai in January last year, she did not anticipate that being kind towards the stray dogs there would cause trouble for her family. The 22-year-old alleges that she and her family have been harassed by her neighbours from April 2018 for the same reason, even though she got the dogs in the area sterilized and spayed so that they would not increase in population and would not become health hazards.
Speaking to TNM, Manjula said that it was an incident on December 17, 2018, where things reached the tipping point. “My neighbour physically assaulted me, verbally abused me and my family. I also received a death threat. I filed a police complaint the same day, but no action has been taken so far. The CSR copy given to me the next day does not even mention the physical assault. It just says we argued,” she said.
While Manjula’s complaint mentions the verbal abuse and assault, the CSR copy, seen by TNM, only mentions the former.
Manjula also says that no FIR has been registered in the case, which was confirmed to TNM by the Maduravoyal T4 police station.
The assault and harassment
After she moved along with her sister and parents into a rented house in the neighbourhood, Manjula noticed that the street dogs in the area were malnourished, and the female ones were frequently littering puppies. “I decided to get them sterilized. But the vet said that they were too malnourished to undergo the procedure. So I thought to feed them for two months and then bring them back for sterilization,” Manjula shared.
During this time, she observed some cases of cruelty towards the dogs as well and treated the injured ones at her own expense and at home. Due to this, she said, the neighbours began harassing her and her family. According to a complaint from October 2018 she addressed to the Mudravoyal police station, Manjula alleged that they had been facing abuse from their neighbours.
“They regularly disturb and verbally abuse us whenever I or my sister go out, they start recording videos of us. It’s very threatening,” she wrote in the complaint. “Last month, our father’s bike was damaged by hitting it with stones. They threatened to kill the dogs we feed. My sister filed a complaint the T4 Mudravoyal police station in this regard a few weeks back, but there’s been no response yet.”
Manjula also mentioned her neighbour from the house opposite theirs, a man called Mahendran, who she alleged in the complaint was verbally abusing them mostly.
“I told them that day that if they don’t like dogs, they can just show a stick and scare them. They don’t need to hurt them. But they have not stopped,” Manjula said.
Manjula said that by July 2018, she had gotten all but one female dog spayed because the vet realised that she was two months pregnant. “After she littered a few months later, she was bleeding from her private parts. The neighbours thought that she had some infection. On December 17, they surrounded her and started scaring and hitting her. I stopped them, and told them that a dog catcher would come in the evening and take her away to be treated and sterilized,” she narrated.
However, in the evening, when the dog catcher came, the dog relieved herself in front of Mahendran’s home out of fear. It was on that evening, around 7.30 pm, that things went wrong when Manjula went to feed the dogs.
“They made my mother clean the poop, which she did. But Mahendran’s wife came, and pushed me, causing me to fall down. She started pulling my shirt. My mother was trying to stop them, saying they have no right to touch me,” Manjula alleged. “The other neighbours supported her. They want me to get the dogs vaccinated and spayed through the corporation. I am doing everything on my time and expense, I don’t know what’s the problem.”
The same day, Manjula said that she received a death threat from another man in the neighbourhood. “Another person threatened me saying that he will poison me and the dogs,” Manjula wrote in her complaint on December 17, a copy of which is with TNM.
“My parents are scared for me,” Manjula said, adding that her family is now facing pressure from the landlord to move, though he was initially supportive.
Neighbour denies allegations
TNM also spoke to Mahendran, who denied allegations of a physical altercation between his wife and Manjula. He confirmed that Manjula’s mother had cleaned the dog poop from the front of his house.
Mahendran said, “We have around 10 to 15 students coming here for tuition classes. They (kids) were getting scared because of the dogs. There was a dog bite incident also with one of the students. Everyone has pets like dogs and cats but this person (Manjula) keeps a lot of food for them and so, many stray dogs come. It’s a problem for the people in the area.”
Denying that there is a conflict between them now, Mahendran said that his wife had not pushed or hit Manjula. “Around 20 people were on the street that day. The police questioned us at the station and her (Manjula) too. I told the police officers that if my wife had actually hit or abused her (Manjula) then give me any punishment and I will accept it.”
When TNM contacted the Maduravoyal police station, the official said that Manjula was “creating nuisance in the area,” while assuring TNM that an investigation into her claims was on. An FIR could only be registered after an investigation, the official said.
Though the investigation is pending, the police already seem to have reached a conclusion in the case. “She (Manjula) is living in a rented house in that area and is doing all rubbish. She is bringing all the dogs to her house. Everybody in the surrounding area hates that. Anybody can give any complaint,” said the police official, before disconnecting the call.
(With inputs from Manasa Rao and Nimeshika Jayachandran)