Youth Front (Mani) party workers killed 10 dogs and paraded their carcasses on the streets of Kottayam on Monday, just two days after Union minister Maneka Gandhi appealed to state DGP Loknath Behra in Kozhikode to save strays.
The mass killing was reportedly a reaction to the increasing dog menace in the state that led to the death of a woman last week. In another incident, strays killed an aged woman and devoured a portion of her body on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram about two months ago.
After beating the dogs to death, the angry workers tied the carcasses to a wooden pole and took out a rally, shouting slogans against Maneka Gandhi and the state government for ignoring the plight of the common man.
“If the situation continues like this, we will take law in our hands. We can’t be mute spectators any more. Those who are speaking for strays are agents of the powerful vaccine lobby,” said Youth Front state president Saji Manjakadambil.
He claimed his workers only eliminated the “dangerous” dogs and would continue the exercise if authorities fail to tackle the menace.
Video of the protest that saw the dogs being dumped outside local government offices in Kottayam district was broadcast on television, sparking public anger.
“These people who are beating and using dogs to their advantage and political opportunity will do the same to people they are trying to impress. This is completely barbarian way to deal with a situation...is it leading to a solution? No way!!,” Delhi-based animal rights activist Khushboo Gupta said.
“Kerala is perfect example of how sensible actions has no connection with your literacy level,” she wrote on Facebook.
“We have registered a case against the protesters today for cruelty against animals and launched our investigation,” Gireesh P Saradhi, deputy superintendent of Kottayam police, told AFP.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had sparked anger recently by saying he opposed culling, while animal activists have called for sterilisation and other more humane methods of curbing numbers.
According to a survey conducted by the state animal husbandry department, there are around 9.23 lakh domestic dogs and 2.70 lakh strays in the state. In 2016, till August, 51,000 dog bites and four deaths have been reported.
Animal lovers blame poor waste disposal methods of the state for the proliferation of strays.
There are only about 1,500 veterinarian surgeons, but the state needs at least double that number to effectively carry out its sterilisation programme. Since a majority of the local bodies don’t have the infrastructure for animal birth control, quick, but ineffective, measures are relied upon. Most are yet to switch over from traditional sterilisation methods to the modern keyhole surgery, a standard procedure followed globally.
Veterinary doctors say if key hole surgery is performed, a dog can leave the hospital in two days; other methods require at least four days of recovery, burdening an already inadequate infrastructure. As a consequence, culling strays has become common place.
With inputs from agencies