Young men, armed with iron rods and wooden staffs, are patrolling the roads and alleys of this village in the Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh since Saturday. Their mandate — “chase the stray dogs and kill them."
For, stray dogs in the village have turned man-eaters. They have already killed two children and a 20-year-old man during the past fortnight. “We have killed over two dozen dogs in three days,” said dog hunters Aman Soaib and Asif.
The villagers allege that the dogs started attacking human beings after feeding on effluents from a nearby slaughterhouse.
And since these are deaths in the time of elections, politicians tried to get into the picture. But they had to retreat. The villagers warned have them. “They should not try to take political mileage out of the crisis. We know how to deal with dogs”, another dog hunter said indignantly.
BJP leader Vineet Sharda, former mayor Sushil Gujar and former MP Shahid Akhlaq were among those who faced the villagers’ ire.
Animal rights activist Menaka Gandhi has spoken to the administration to save the dogs. Activists of her organisation are roaming around the town to prevent killings.
Worried municipal officials have activated dog squads, but hunting is on.