A Dhaka court has fined a youth from Savar only Tk300 after he apologised for directing and recording his teenage aide’s brutal acts with a puppy on his phone and killing it the next day.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate Court of Begum Jesmin Ara warned the accused and ordered the sentence Thursday after a brief charge framing hearing.
The plaintiff, who demanded an exemplary punishment of the perpetrator, expressed frustration over the order, terming it a lenient sentence.
Animal rights activists have expressed shock at the verdict in social media.
The main accused, 20-year-old college student Md Mamun-or-Rashid, was in the dock. He hails from Joynabari area of Hemayetpur in Savar.
A Dhaka court issued arrest warrant against him on March 13. He later secured bail.
Mamun’s close aide, Ali, 14, was discharged from the charges filed under sections 4 and 7 of the Cruelty to Animal Act 1920, as the police said they could not find him or get his full address.
Ali lives in the same area as per the charge sheet, submitted by Leather Industrial Park police outpost Sub-Inspector ABM Shah Alam on February 25.
SI Alam also requested for his discharge since his specific address could not be gathered.
The highest penalty for killing animals with unnecessary cruelty under the century-old law is six months’ imprisonment and/or fines up to Tk200. Mamun was fined Tk100 under Section 4 and Tk200 under Section 7.
The High Court rule delivered in 2014 clearly states that “unnecessary killing or injuring of an animal in brutal way is punishable.”
The government has finalised a new law styled Animal Welfare Act, having a provision of maximum of two-year imprisonment and a Tk50,000 fine for killing an animal, and six-month jail and Tk10,000 fine for cruelty towards animals or using them for excessive toil.
According to the draft law, showing unnecessary cruelty towards animals or beating them is considered a punishable offence, even if it is the owner who commits the offence.
At the beginning of the hearing Thursday, the defence lawyer prayed to the court to pardon the accused, saying that his client could not imagine the consequences of the act.
The lawyer argued that Mamun had not killed the puppy but only recorded an incident occurred in the area where a teenager, Ali, was making fun with a puppy.
He also told the court that his client would not repeat such incident.
Plaintiff’s lawyer Md Mohibur Rahman Ripon protested the discharge prayer, suggesting that Mamun had planned and directed the whole incident that caused serious injuries to the puppy.
The duo killed the puppy the next morning and buried it, says the charge sheet.
Later the court decided not to indict the main accused, Mamun, and gave the order. The judge did not watch the video, according to court sources, though it was submitted as evidence by the investigation officer.
After the verdict, plaintiff Rakibul Haq Emil, founder-chairman of People for Animal Welfare Foundation, said that the authorities should enforce the related laws effectively to prevent recurrence of cruelty against animals including unlawful culling of dogs across the country.
The group identifies and rescues stranded, sick and wounded animals, cures them and ensures adoption by animal lovers.
Demanding exemplary punishment of people responsible for animal cruelty, Emil said that they were planning to challenge the verdict at the higher court.
Earlier, three youths were arrested in Banasree area of Rampura, Dhaka in 2015 in a case filed for severely injuring a stray dog. The case is currently under trial at a Dhaka court.
Disturbing video content
It appears from the video that Mamun made it in a planned way, considering that there were many people who would like his acts and his YouTube subscriptions would increase, giving him a scope of earning some money.
He chose an empty plot beside a brickfield in Joynabari area for the shooting.
Keeping the phone camera on selfie mode, Mamun told audience about a song he recalled, “Mon Bhalo Nai, Tai Kutta Tarai” (driving away dogs since I’m not in a good mood), and wanted to show how to do this by directing the actor, Ali, his assistant who was in a laughing mood throughout the shooting.
Ali then found a dog sitting idle on the ground under the open sky, and with immense joy in his face he threw a brick at it to drive it away from the spot at once.
In scene two, Mamun said that he would show how to spin a dog.
Ali was seen caressing a puppy lightly for some time, but with an ill-intention, and later held its rear legs and started spinning it as if he were playing hammer throw.
But the puppy slipped, fell on the sandy ground with a great force, after Ali spun it for at least 38 times.
The ill-fated puppy still had the energy to stand on its feet. But the duo did not stop.
Mamun then spoke to camera again and asked Ali to resume spinning.
Ali obliged thereby, kicked its butt and spun it for another five times – this time using more force. The puppy was panting.
[caption id="attachment_62870" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Mamun directed his close aide, Ali, to conduct the cruelty that caused serious injuries to the puppy COLLECTED
Motive of his acts
Mamun wanted to make a funny video that would draw huge views on social media and go viral, which may help him become a popular content maker and anchor.
He chose dogs as the subject, and directed a film on how to drive a dog away and play hammer throw with a puppy.
He started shooting the scenes using his mobile phone in the morning of January 18. He later edited the clips and uploaded a 2:16-minute video to his Facebook profile and YouTube channel.
But he faced severe criticisms.
Some activists from PAW Foundation noticed the video and managed to learn about his location from a brief conversation online, upon which he removed the videos.
The next morning the duo smashed the head of the puppy before the campaigners went to his house in Joynabari area. But the murder could not be kept hidden; blood stains were there on the spot near his house.
The activists enquired him about the authenticity of the video, and also informed his parents and locals about the matter – most of whom were not aware of the legal provisions that criminalise cruelty towards animals.
Dhaka Tribune cannot confirm whether Mamun had killed more dogs in the past.
Mamun regrets, but parents nonchalant
Mamun apologised to the campaigners for his acts, expressing regret.
But his father, Md Joyen Uddin, was nonchalant, and claimed that his son was innocent.
“Mamun only recorded the incident. Some slum children were making fun with the puppy. He committed no offence,” he told the campaigners.
The father even claimed that the puppy had always been annoying for everyone in the area and even bit his cow one day.
The campaigners left the place that day, but did not give up.
Meanwhile, PAW Chairman Emil received several complaints about the matter from other activists on Facebook seeking action against the perpetrators.
Emil then decided to take legal action with a view to create awareness and prevent recurrence of such brutality.
He filed a general diary with Savar police on January 21 accusing the YouTube content maker, Mamun, and his associate, Ali.
As per a court order, SI Shah Alam investigated the allegations and submitted report to the court, saying that the allegations were found to be true. He named seven people as witnesses, but claimed that he had not been able to find Ali’s address.
Also read: Delinquent torments dog to death for amusement
Landmark court order
On March 13, Dhaka’s Judicial Magistrate Tauhidul Azad issued the arrest warrant against Mamun – possibly the first of its kind in an animal cruelty case – after accepting the charges.
The arrest warrant against Mamun reached Savar police station on March 15.
Emil and other members of the PAW Foundation accompanied the police during a drive launched the same night in Mamun’s house. But he was not there.
His father Joyen Uddin and other members claimed that Mamun had secured bail from the court, though they failed to show the documents.
IO Shah Alam later confirmed that Mamun had got bail a day before the arrest warrant was issued.
“Today’s verdict is a failure of our movement. Alongside the government, more and more animal lovers should come forward to create wider awareness among the people against such cruelty,” Emil said.
“Moreover, such movements need more professional and dedicated lawyers and veterinary physicians,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.