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Students cry foul, claim dogs on IIT-M campus go missing after sterilisation. Dog lovers write to AWBI, Maneka Gandhi

Roshni* recalls her first day as a student of IIT Madras. During the orientation, she tells us how the students were asked to not feed the stray dogs on campus. A dog lover, she flinched at the instruction. However, over time, she says that she befriended a lot of strays who wandered around the institute’s 620-acre campus.

“I used to feed the dogs near IIT-Madras’ Velachery gate. I have also gotten a lot of them vaccinated and sterilised in my own capacity,” she says. Of the dogs that she befriended over the years was a black and white stray, whom she called Terry.

It has been months since Roshni last saw Terry. Owing to the pandemic and the lockdown, she says that she visits the campus only once in two weeks. But Terry wasn’t on campus the last time she visited. “A few days later, I happened to see a video where he was captured by two guards using nets, supposedly for sterilising and vaccinating him. But Terry is a sterilised dog. Also, no one knows where he is right now. He hasn’t been released back on campus,” she says.

While she raises questions on what could have happened to Terry, she says that the administration has always warned the students to not feed strays, as they might endanger the deer population. “However, we have never seen this happen. All animals existed peacefully on campus. Moreover, Terry isn’t capable of hurting even a mosquito. The video of him getting captured breaks my heart,” she says. She also tells us how the students took care of the dog who arrived in IIT, years back when he was a puppy.

A few weeks ago, the IITM administration had sent out a circular, asking its students to not feed the strays on campus, but instead, feed them only near the designated feeding zone at particular hours. This had created a lot of hue and cry among the animal lovers on campus who allege that they haven’t been able to meet a lot of strays after the introduction of this norm. “There was hardly any dog in sight, the last time I went to the campus,” says Roshni.

Around the same time, the students also alleged that they saw a concealed zone being set up on campus. “We were told that it was IIT-M’s dog sterilisation facility. However, no one is allowed to go near it. Nobody knows what happens inside and we do not see a lot of dogs who are taken there,” says Roshni.

Raising the same issues, an alumna and former employee, Tryphena Duddley has now written emails to the Animal Welfare Board of India and MP Maneka Gandhi. “The administration and some residents of IIT Madras have been trying to get rid of the dogs on campus for a long time. Up until a few years back, they were employing people to remove dogs from campus and leave them elsewhere outside,” reads the email. “Dog feeders and caretakers are constantly abused both physically and verbally on a regular basis…We hear from security guards that they have been instructed to beat and kill the dogs at night,” it reads. The students have now started an online petition, asking the administration “to stop torturing strays on campus.”

We have written to the IIT Madras administration, seeking comment on this issue. However, they are yet to respond. This copy will be updated once they respond.