Animals rescued from Navi Mumbai farmhouse

Several animals, which were being kept in extremely unhealthy conditions at a retired professor’s farmhouse in Navi Mumbai, were rescued in a joint raid by People For Animals (PFA), a non government animal rights body, and the police, on Sunday night.

PFA members said they received complaints of stench coming from the farmhouse at Dudhani near Matheran. Soon, they informed the Panvel Taluka police.

Activists said several animals have already died and the place was smelling of rotting flesh when they got there. “The animals were being kept in severely unhygienic conditions and we found the carcass of a sheep. Another corner had a dog in an iron cage, which was very ill and surrounded by fleas. All around the farmhouse, animals were roaming around in the rain, obviously undernourished and in poor health,” PFA member Chetan Sharma said.

The raiding team started rounding up the animals and by early Monday morning, had taken a horse, a cow, five goats, three sheep, and three cats into custody and handed them over to Benevolent, a Mumbai-based animal welfare organisation. Another five dogs and six 10-day-old puppies have also been rounded up, and will be rescued as soon as the arrangements are made.

The caretaker of the farm house allegedly told the activists that the owner, Suhas Sawant, has been bringing animals to the farm and then neglecting them for years.

“We have learned that there used to be nearly 100 cows at one point of time, but they all died one after the other over the years. The people who complained to us also said that Mr. Sawant had recently bought two horses, one of which died a few days ago. We saw bones of animals strewn all over the premises,” Mr. Sharma said.

The Panvel Taluka police have initiated inquiries. “We have registered a case against Mr. Sawant. As the section invoked does not attract a penalty of more than seven years of imprisonment, we have to seek court’s permission before we can arrest him,” senior police inspector Ashok Rajput, Panvel Taluka police station, said.

Mr. Sawant had also been booked for a similar offence around three months ago, and a charge sheet was filed against him.

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