Bhopal: A 3-year-old black Labrador has undergone a DNA test to end a bitter ownership dispute in the Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. The result of the test is still awaited.
Shadab Khan, a 32-year-old journalist, and 22-year-old student Kratik Shivhare both claim to be owners of the Labrador.
Khan, who works for a Hindi news channel, said that his dog Coco went missing on 2 August.
“I bathed my dog and tied him outside to dry in the sun. When I returned after taking a bath I found him missing. I thought he would come back but he didn’t,” he said.
He allegedly lodged a complaint with the Hoshangabad Rural Police Station but the police station in-charge Hemant Shrivastava said that he was not aware of any complaint.
Meanwhile, Shivhare said that his dog’s name was Tiger, who he had recently bought from the city Itarsi.
Khan traced Coco to Shivhare but when the latter did not agree to hand the dog back, he demanded a DNA test.
“Uske liye kutta hai mere liye mere bacche ka pyar hai (it’s just a dog for me but for me it’s my child’s love,” said Khan, referring to his son.
Dog is friendly with both alleged owners
According to Khan, on 18 November, he had learnt that a black Labrador was on sale for Rs 10,000 and when he saw the photographs of the canine, he was convinced it was his Coco.
The dog was kept in the premises of a school owned by Shivhare’s family, less than a kilometre from Khan’s home in Malakhedi.
Khan noted that the caretaker had warned him that the dog, kept in a cage, was aggressive and could also attack him.
“But he wagged his tail and followed me home,” he said.
This homecoming happened in the presence of the police who agreed to Khan’s ownership claim after he showed them the dog’s vaccination papers.
However, Shivhare, who was not in Hoshangabad that day, approached the police the next day and said that vaccination papers were not proof of ownership.
He claimed to have bought the dog for Rs 5,000 from an acquaintance who could not put up with his barking. He further noted that the dog was friendly with him as well.
Shivhare, who is associated with RSS student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), also said that he was an amateur dog breeder who occasionally sold puppies.
After that, he was successful in regaining custody of the Labrador, who continues to be with him despite Khan’s objections.
“They told me he will be in the custody of police till the matter was decided but they succumbed to pressure from the top,” said Khan.
Shadab Khan paid Rs 28,320 for DNA test
Shivhare even got the acquaintance who allegedly sold him the dog to testify before the police.
It was then that Khan insisted on a DNA test. While the police said they had no budget to meet the cost of the test, Khan agreed to foot the bill of Rs 28,320.
“I could have bought another dog but my son is attached to Coco. I can go to any length to get it,” he said.
According to Hoshangabad Police Station in-charge Shrivastava, since Khan was claiming ownership of someone’s property, the burden of proof lay with him.
He said the DNA samples were sent to a laboratory in Hyderabad four days ago, but was unsure when the results would be available.
Talking about Khan’s claim that the dog was instantly friendly with him, Shrivastava said, “Labrador nalayak kisma ka kutta hai, wo har ek ko apna malik manta hai (Labrador is a dumb breed, it treats every person as its owner).”
But Shivhare is not bothered about the DNA test. “I am not a criminal. Why should I be bothered about any DNA test result? If I had stolen the dog, why would I keep it in the same area,’’ he said.
“I would not give the dog to Shadab even if he were to give me Rs 1 lakh now. The DNA report will expose Shadab because the blood samples won’t match,” he added.