Equine show hosts booked for ban violation

PUNE: The Wanowrie police on Sunday registered a non-cognizable offence against the office bearers of Maharashtra Equestrian Association (MEA) for violating a state government notification. On October 27, the state had banned gathering of horses for shows in Pune and five others districts in an effort to curb the spread of glanders, a highly contagious disease among horses.
Though the state animal husbandry department had instructed the MEA against hosting its three-day horse show in the city, the association went ahead with the event, which concluded on Sunday at Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC).

Sayaji Gaware, Wanowrie police’s senior inspector, told TOI, “We have registered a non-cognizable offence under Sections of 7, 11, 12 and 13 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animal Act, 2009. It was registered following a complaint lodged by Purshottam Kadam, a horse lover, on Sunday. We will complete the further procedure as per law.”

In his complaint, Kadam has named MEA president Neeta Nihalani, her husband Pahlaj Nihalani, who is also the former chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, MEA general secretary Col Vinayak Narayan Kapre (retd), Col Moni Alahwat (retd) and Kishor Dhabade, among others, said the police.

Speaking to TOI, Col Kapre (retd) said, “The participating horses had got the requisite medical clearances. Therefore, we got permission from RWITC authorities to hold the show. Our intention behind organising the show was to promote equestrian sports in the country.” Over 50 horses had participated in various categories of equestrian sports in the show.

Neeta Nihalani was not available for a comment. However, Pahlaj Nihalani said, “We received a notice from the animal husbandry department only today (Sunday). We are surprised at the attitude of the department’s officials. Hundreds of RWITC horses had been transported to Mumbai for the race a few days ago, but the department did not take notice of the same.”

On Sunday, a delegation of the animal husbandry department visited the RWITC to hand over its notification asking the equestrian association to stop the show.
Shitalkumar Mukne, the deputy commissioner of animal husbandry department, said, “In our notification, we had categorically stated that transportation and gathering of horses in Pune district is banned as the disease can be transmitted to other animals as well as human beings. We had faced a similar situation in 2006, and at that time too we had stopped all such activities. This ban will be continued until the first week of January.”
Mukne added, “We have collected the blood samples from horses and have sent them for testing at the department’s laboratory. The results of these samples are expected to come in coming weeks. Based on the sample reports, we will take further action.”