Playing to public sentiment against stray dogs in Kerala, members of the Youth Front (Mani) on Monday killed around 10 stray dogs to protest against the menace.
The cadres of the youth wing of the Kerala Congress Mani group beat the dogs to death, tied a few to a pole and paraded them in Kottayam town.
They were protesting against the recurrent attacks by stray dogs and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi's approach towards the stray dog problem in Kerala. The Minister has many a time come down heavily on the state for its poor handling of the menace.
The protestors took the dog carcasses to the post office in the town and demanded that the dogs be sent in a parcel to the minister. As a token gesture, they left the dead dogs at Kottayam West post office gate with Maneka Gandhi's address duly written on it.
Inaugurating the protest, Youth Front President Saji Manjakadambil said that Maneka Gandhi's approach towards stray dogs despite them posing a huge threat to the people was suspicious.
He added that Maneka Gandhi was "an agent of pharmaceutical companies" and that the BJP must make its stand clear on the issue.
“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. "So many people in Kottayam have been attacked by dogs. Dog lovers are okay with any other animal getting slaughtered, why this bias only towards dogs," he asked.
Saji insisted that his cadres had beaten only ‘dangerous’ dogs to death. How did they identify dangerous dogs? “One can understand when one sees dangerous dogs. We identified dogs that were attacking people or were simply rotting in the streets,” he said. He also rubbished the calls for sterilising street dogs and said, "Dogs don't attack people for lust. How will sterilising them help?"
According to reports, the local administration officials later cleared the dead dogs from the post office gate and buried them in a nearby ground.
Kottayam West police have registered a case against the protestors for cruelty against animals and said that the bodies will be exhumed and sent for post mortem on Tuesday.
"We have charged a case against 15 people under section 428 and 429 of IPC and Section 11 of Prevention of Cruelty against animals. Nobody has been arrested yet," Nirmal Bose Kottayam West Circle Inspector told The News Minute.
Notably, the Malayalam media's treatment of the incident also needs to be highlighted. A prominent Malayalam paper called it "a protest with a difference." A local paper said “murderous dogs have been given capital punishment.”
According to the state Health department, in 2013, 88,172 people were bitten and 11 died of dog bites. The numbers of dog bites increased to 1,19,000 in 2014 and 10 died of dog bites. In 2015, over 10,000 were bitten and the number of deaths stayed at 10. Up until August 2016, over 51,000 were bitten and 4 had died of bites.
The Kerala Congress (Mani) group, a breakaway faction of the Indian National Congress was an ally of the United Democratic Front for many decades and split from the front only recently. They have five members in the Kerala Legislative Assembly.
Both that party and its youth front have organised similar protests in the past few weeks. On 16 September, Gils Periappuram -a Muncipality ward councillor of Piravam in Ernakulam, also a Kerala Congress (M) member, was arrested by the police for killing ten stray dogs. He was later given bail.
Gils Periappuram posing with the culled dogs