Intervening in the raging debate on culling dangerous stray dogs in Kerala, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi has demanded that those who take law in their hands and kill the strays should be considered as 'goondas' and be booked under Kerala Anti-social Activities Prevention Act (KAAPA), commonly known as the 'goonda act'. 


Speaking exclusively to Asianet News, Gandhi said that those who openly defy the law by killing stray dogs should be strictly dealt with. The state police chief should take steps to impose KAAPA, against those who continue to kill despite first warnings, she said referring to industrialist Kochouseph Chittilappilly, who is leading a campaign prompting people to kill the strays. 


Some industrialists and criminals are trying to become heroes by taking up the case of stray dogs and openly demanding defiance of law, Gandhi said. 


"I spoke to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He also said he was against killing strays. (He) Said his entire staff has been working for setting up Animal Birth Control (ABC) centres. But yes, unless he opens his mouth, the killing will continue," she said. 


Those who kill stray dogs should not be let go by remitting Rs.50 as fine. "The DGP should use KAAPA because if you are 5-time criminal and you are carrying on abusing the DGP and cabinet ministers and openly asking for defiance and advocating the use of guns, then you are a danger to Kerala," Gandhi said. 


Some industrialists and criminals are trying to become heroes by taking up the case of stray dogs and openly demanding defiance of law, she said. 


Those who kill dogs now will hit the streets tomorrow to cull cattle, and then they would target women and children, the minister said. She demanded that ABC centres should be opened in all districts by 1 November. 


We will continue to kill dangerous strays:  Industrialist Kochouseph Chittilappilly


Chittilappilly sharply reacted to Gandhi's statement and said that he was ready to face KAAPA for killing dogs. "We will continue to kill dangerous strays," he told Asianet News. 


Meanwhile, in the latest case of the stray dog attack, a 90-year-old man, who was taking rest in his house at Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram sustained serious injuries when a pack of dogs prowled on him early morning on Wednesday. He is undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit of Govt. Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram in a very serious condition. 


The state government had decided to eliminate dangerous and ferocious strays after a 65-year-old Siluvamma was mauled to death by a pack of 50 dogs on 20 August near Pulluvila beach in the state capital. The dogs had also attacked her son Selvaraj who tried to chase away the dogs. Selvaraj managed to escape by jumping into the sea and swam to safety.  Reports of stray dog attacks started pouring in from across the state. 


The government later toned down its stand following strong criticism from Maneka Gandhi and animal lovers. But many organisations came forward and started killing stray dogs igniting a heated debate. 


Responding Gandhi's statement on Monday, LSG Minister KT Jaleel said that the union minister should visit Kerala and understand the situation here. "The government is committed to making Kerala stray dog-free in five years," he said.