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Ghaziabad rabies death: Accused woman yet to show vaccination documents for all her pets, locals scared of stray dogs as victim family awaits justice

In his conversation with Indian Express, Singh said, “It is not clear which dog bit the child. WHO guidelines state that in case of rabies, the victim dies within a few days. However, in this case, the family said that the boy was bitten by the dog around 45 days before. The dogs are physically fine. We can know the actual cause of death after proper probe.”

On 4 September, in a tragic incident in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, a 14-year-old boy identified as Shahvez lost his life after exhibiting symptoms consistent with rabies. The deceased boy had been bitten by a dog around one and a half months prior to his demise. However, as per reports, the boy didn’t inform about the dog bite at home and failed to take the anti-rabies vaccine, as a result, the family was completely unaware of his deteriorating health.  

This tragic incident came to public attention only after a heart-wrenching video surfaced online in the first week of September. In the video, the boy is seen in agonizing pain and distress in the embrace of his hapless father. The video was reportedly recorded four hours prior to Shahvez’s death in a hospital.

After the tragic death of their child, the family filed a complaint against Sunita and other residents of Charan Singh Colony, Ghaziabad, alleging that their dog had bitten the child. On 5 September, a case was lodged at Vijay Nagar Police Station (FIR number 696) under IPC sections 289 (negligent conduct with respect to an animal) and 304-A (causing death by negligence) on the basis of Matlub Ahmed, a relative of deceased kid Shahvez. Sunita, Aakash, Shivani, and another woman named Rashi were named as accused in the FIR.

Swarajya report highlights stray dog menace in the area and updates on the police investigation

As per a Swarajya Magazine ground report by Swati Goel Sharma, the victim Shavez’s house is located in the ‘masjid wali Gali in Charan Singh colony. The house comes under the jurisdiction of the Vijay Nagar police station. However, the house has been locked and the family has gone to their native place.

Street dogs in the colony pose risk specially to kids (Image Source – Swarajya)

In the street, it was clear that the residents were fearful of a substantial population of stray dogs. After getting information from neigbours, the Swarajya team visited a nearby junk shop owned by a relative of the deceased boy named Matlub Ahmed, who filed an FIR in this matter.

Details and claims made in the FIR

Ahmed identified himself as the uncle (chacha) of Shahvez’s father Yaqoob. He told Swarajya that the grieving family had temporarily shifted to their ancestral home in Bulandshahr. The tragic loss greatly affected the family, and the team learned that Shahvez’s grandfather, Mehboob, who is the elder brother of Ahmed, had suffered a stroke two nights ago.  

Matlub Ahmed – Grandfather who lodged a complaint in this case. (Image Source – Swarajya)

A day after Shahvez’s death, Ahmed lodged a police complaint in which he stated that about a month ago, Shahvez was attacked by a dog owned by a local resident named Sunita. 

When the child’s family confronted Sunita and her children Aakash and Shivani, they were assured that all their dogs were vaccinated. Sunita reassured them that there was nothing to fear and that nothing would happen to the child.

After receiving reassurance from Sunita’s family, which later turned out to be incorrect, the child’s parents stopped worrying about the dog bite. However, a month later, the child started showing symptoms consistent with rabies. His mouth started drooling, he started to bark like a dog, and began fearing water. 

FIR copy (Image Credit – Swati Goel Sharma’s X handle )

The family immediately rushed Shahvez to a hospital, where doctors informed the parents that their kid could not be saved. The doctor added that it was best for the family to stay away from him. The infection happened to spread so fast that he could not breathe properly and suffered a painful death on Monday (4 September).

In the meantime, Yakub, the father of the boy, is said to have consulted 4-5 doctors and took him to several hospitals in Delhi and Bulandshahr to save his son’s life. He couldn’t receive any help as the rabies virus has a 100% fatality rate

After the child’s death, the family again confronted Sunita but she dismissed the matter. In the FIR, Ahmed further added that Sunita (one of the accused in this case) domesticates around six to seven dogs which he claimed are not vaccinated. These dogs often bark at children as they are in need of food. As per the FIR, Rashi, who identifies herself as an animal welfare advocate, opposes any attempt to relocate these street dogs from the area.

Speaking to Swarajya, Ahmed mentioned that Sunita lives four streets away, and after the dog bite incident, the child referred to her as the ‘aunty who keeps dogs’ when speaking to his mother.

During the interaction, he painted a painful picture of Shahvez’s condition in the week leading to his demise. According to him, the child grew increasingly fearful of both light and water which are known symptoms of rabies.

On 3rd September, the family had to rush him to six different hospitals in a single day, as per the report. Despite their frantic efforts to seek medical help in both Delhi and Bulandshahr, they were unable to save his life.

The victim’s family was accused of ‘molestation’ by the accused Sunia’s family

The grief-stricken family was aghast when allegations of molestation were levelled by the accused, lamented Danish Khan who is an uncle (chacha) of the boy, as per the Swarajya. 

Khan added that Sunita and other women in her family gave statements to news channels that men in “masjid wali gali” molest women from other colonies.

He claimed that Mehboob, the deceased boy’s grandfather, suffered a stroke when he saw the allegations on a news channel a few days ago. According to him, the allegations of molestation and the pain of the boy’s demise were a double shock which was too much for the old man to bear.  

Another relative Mahir told Swarajya that the boy’s family had moved to Ghaziabad from Sikandrabad town of Bulandshahr only two years ago to seek better opportunities.

The deceased boy Shahvez was a student of Class VIII and he is survived by three sisters and a younger brother.

Facts of the case

Following the incident, the Ghaziabad Police took to X to issue a statement stating that the boy had been bitten around two months ago. They added that the boy hid this crucial detail from his parents. By the time symptoms of rabies began to manifest, it proved to be too late for effective medical intervention. They added that the accused were being questioned.

Initial Police Statement on Ghaziabad Rabies death case (Image Source – Police Commissionarate Ghaziabad’s X handle)

Accused family fails to show vaccination records for all their dogs

When Swarajya approached the family who has been named in this case, they declined to comment. Two female family members refused to reveal their identities and asserted that they had already presented vaccination documents for their pets to local authorities and had nothing more to say.

However, they argued that there were a lot of stray dogs in the area, and there was no evidence that it was their dog that had bitten the boy.

According to media reports, the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation had issued a notice to the accused family to check for vaccination records of the canine following the demise of the child. 

Speaking to The Indian Express, GMC Deputy Chief Veterinary, Anuj Kumar Singh said that a team visited the family and checked the dogs’ vaccination records. 

The officials found that the family had three pet dogs of the Pomeranian breed and they did provide the vaccination proof for these three dogs. However, they had also domesticated dogs of Indian breeds and had not shared the details of their registration.

In his conversation with Indian Express, Singh said, “It is not clear which dog bit the child. WHO guidelines state that in case of rabies, the victim dies within a few days. However, in this case, the family said that the boy was bitten by the dog around 45 days before. The dogs are physically fine. We can know the actual cause of death after proper probe.”

While the investigation is still ongoing, the fear of stray dogs and unvaccinated domesticated animals has not only alarmed the local residents but has also raised concerns across Ghaziabad and the entire nation. 

The local residents told Swarajya’s ground reporting team that stray dogs had become a menace in the area. They alleged that certain families fed stray dogs and are responsible for the rising population of these canines in the locality. 

Several locals in the area took Sunita’s name and claimed that she has six to seven dogs. A local vendor named Lalu shared a similar concern adding that the residents were constantly scared of the canine population in the area that “terrorises outsiders”.

The menace of stray dogs is such that Ghaziabad saw an alarming 25 dog bite incidents in just a day (Saturday 9 September), according to a local Hindi daily Hindustan. 

India: The ‘world leader’ in Rabies deaths

Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The RABV virus infection is the root of the ailment. The virus infects the central nervous system of mammals which ultimately results in brain disease and death. It causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and other mammals. 

According to doctors, rabies is incurable. However, if the infected person gets a dose of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) within 24 hours, it could potentially save his life. 

The number of human deaths globally due to dog-mediated rabies is estimated to be 59,000 annually. India is responsible for 36% of rabies-related deaths worldwide, according to the statistics of the World Health Organisation. Moreover, India is responsible for 65% of the such fatalities in South-East Asia. The National Rabies Control Programme recorded 6644 medically suspected cases and fatalities of rabies between 2012 and 2022.

The unexpected increase in rabies infections in India is a serious public health issue that needs urgent intervention. 

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