The so-called stray-dog menace in Kerala reached a gruesome pitch when a group of men paraded five dead bodies of animals they had killed on the streets of Kottayam on Monday.
More than a dozen members of the Youth Front (Mani), the youth wing of Kerala Congress (Mani), tied the dogs by their legs to a pole to protest against the failure of the local governing body in tackling growing attacks on civilians by stray dogs.
The public outrage against strays increased after a 65-year-old woman was reportedly mauled by a pack of dogs in Kerala recently. Following this incident, in spite of calls for mass culling of the dogs, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a message on his Facebook page that any such action should be taken in accordance to the rules and no animal should be killed illegally.
The municipality in Kottayam is under the rule of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The Youth Front (Mani) of Kerala Congress (Mani), which was protesting against municipal failure, recently split from the Congress.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi, who also opposed the rampant culling of stray dogs, was one of the targets of its ire, The Times of Indiareported, the other being the state government and its inaction on the issue. The protestors finally left the carcasses in front of the post office, facing the municipal office, in Kottayam, with a note addressed to Gandhi.
According to a report, over 100,000 people have been bitten by dogs in Kerala in the year 2015-16. A bench of the Supreme Court recently urged the importance of being compassionate to animals without letting them become a menace to society.
Responding to the rise of the threat posed by strays, Saji Manjakadambil, who was heading the protest, told reporters, "We have killed these dogs. And it's a warning that this will continue if the central and the state government do not control the stray dog menace."
Later, he clarified his position to The News Minute. "I love dogs; I have dogs in my house. Our protest was against dangerous dogs and we hope that seeing the protest in Kottayam, people across districts do the same," Saji told TNM. When asked to explain the reason why these dogs were chosen to be killed, Saji explained to TNM that these animals had seemed "dangerous" to him and his fellow protestors.
The News Minute also noted the reaction of the Malayalam press to the demonstration, where responses ranged from "a protest with a difference" to "murderous dogs have been given capital punishment". The local administration officials later removed the dead dogs and buried them nearby.
According to TNM, Kottayam West police have registered a case against the protestors for cruelty against animals. The bodies will be exhumed and sent for post mortem on Tuesday.
The penalty for cruelty to an animal in Indian law is usually a measly sum of money, ranging from Rs 10 to 100. Recently, two medical students in Chennai were severely penalised by their college for throwing a stray dog from the roof of a multi-storey building and capturing the entire act on video footage. Earlier they had been released on bail after being arrested for the crime. The dog, named Bhadra, survived the fall but has been crippled for life.
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