Maneka Gandhi under fire for ‘abusive, threatening calls’ to vets

Following a protest call by the IVA, veterinarians across the country observed a “black day” on Wednesday.

BJP MP Maneka Gandhi is caught in a row with the Indian Veterinary Association (IVA) after purported audio clips of her abusive and threatening phone calls to three veterinarians were circulated on social media.

Following a protest call by the IVA, veterinarians across the country observed a “black day” on Wednesday. The IVA has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on her “unparliamentary behaviour”. The organisation has sought an “unconditional apology” from the former Union minister.

In a purported audio clip of her phone conversation with Dr Vikas Sharma, a veterinarian in Gorakhpur, Gandhi is heard accusing him of carrying out a shoddy amputation on a dog. The conversation is reported to have occurred on June 17.

Gandhi purportedly threatens to “take away” Sharma’s licence if the dog dies. “Main tumhara licence lekar rahungi… tumhare paas degree bhi hai operation ki (I will take away your licence… Do you even have a degree to carry out the operation),” she purportedly says, and then abuses him.

She purportedly asks him his surname, and then says he is a “blot (kalank)” on his family’s name. “Tumhara baap kya karta hain, koi maali hain, chowkidar hain, kya hain? Tum literate ho bhi? (What does your father do, is he a gardener or chowkidar? Are you even literate),” she purportedly says. Sharma responds that his father is a teacher.

In another purported audio clip of her phone conversation with a veterinarian identified as Dr Mahendra, Gandhi is heard threatening to get his licence cancelled for “killing” a dog. The veterinarian says he “euthanised” the dog, as the owner wanted it.

In a separate audio clip of another purported phone conversation between Gandhi and Dr L N Gupta, a veterinarian in Agra, the MP threatens to get his licence cancelled, shut down his clinic and have him picked up by the police for carrying out an amputation on a dog. She purportedly tells him to pay Rs 70,000 as compensation to the dog owner.

Gandhi did not respond to repeated calls and text messages. While Sharma and Gupta remained unavailable for comment, the veterinarian identified as Mahendra could not be contacted.

Dr Ratnesh Yadav, who is named by Gandhi in one of the purported audio clips, told The Indian Express: “This call from Maneka Gandhi (to Sharma) came a while ago. We used to run an animal shelter in Gorakhpur, but we have shifted.” He said he no longer works with Sharma.

In its statement on Tuesday, the IVA “condemned” Gandhi’s “high-handed act… abusive and filthy language… and demanding compensation subverting all the laws of the land in a manner not less than an act of vandalism…’’

“The dog taken to Dr Sharma had a mutilated leg and he accordingly advised an amputation. The dog underwent the operation and was kept in the clinic for 2-3 days and then returned to the owner. When the owner came back with the dog, the stitches had come undone,” said Dr D Thanigaivelu, IVA general secretary.

“She was very abusive in her phone call and used foul language… In the case of the doctor in Agra, she demanded Rs 70,000 as compensation without even knowing the details of the case. This is not the first time that this has happened. She has been making such calls for years now, but we have been patient,” he said.

“But now we felt that enough is enough. She must apologise to the entire profession because… she has called veterinarians illiterate and abused the profession. If she feels the standard of veterinary education needs to be improved, she must present such views in Parliament,’’he said.

“If there is an issue of professional misconduct, then there is a law laid down to handle such cases. There is a statutory council to which complaints can be made… But calling veterinarians and talking to them in such an abusive manner is simply unacceptable,” said Dr Umesh Chandra Sharma, president of the IVA and Veterinary Council of India.

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