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Street dogs being used for target practice in Kerala

By Vicky Nanjappa
November 09, 2012 15:00 IST
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In one of the most dreaded forms of target practice, dogs in several parts of Kerala are being hacked as part of a training programme by radicals.

Such incidents, which have been reported in places like Kannur, Kozhikode, Mallapuram and Thrissur districts, have finally woken up the law enforcement agencies in the state, with eight cases of animal cruelty being registered so far.

The home ministry of Kerala too has taken up the matter seriously and has initiated an inquiry following which nearly 150 persons have been questioned.

The incidents of dogs being used as targets has been taking place since the past one year said a resident of Chova in Kannur district. These incidents are highest in the city and Chova in Kannur district and it often takes place in a big ground.

Police and Intelligence Bureau officials told that during their inquiry they found that these radicals train in batches of 30 at a time. They get street dogs to the ground and chase them on their bikes. These Islamic radicals sit on their bikes with swords and chase the dogs injuring them badly and also killing them at times.

People in these districts were aware of such incidents taking place but feared confronting the youngsters. It is said that nearly 100 dogs were being subject to this brutal act everyday.

However, the Kerala police is now taking the matter seriously and have started registering cases against those involved, as a result of which these incidents are on the decline.

The other places where such incidents have been taking place are at Kakikavu, Pandikkad, Changaramkulam, Peinthalmanna and Palakkad.

The preliminary investigations which are being conducted jointly by the police and the forest department under the instructions of the home ministry have found that extremist groups in Kerala have been organising these camps. Without naming the group, sources say that they started off by organising martial arts camps. This was primarily started to counter the shakhas organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in various parts of Kerala. However, along with martial arts, they even started training youngsters with the use of weapons including swords and pistols, and decided to use dogs as their targets.

Police sources say that in many cases the dogs died or were badly injured. While one reason behind this activity was target practice, the other was to help these youngsters overcome their fear while carrying out an attack. Many of the newer recruits would think twice before carrying out an attack on a human being as they would fear the sight of blood. Hence they are asked to practice on animals so that they overcome their fear, police sources pointed out.

Kerala Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said that he was informed about theses incidents and was looking into the cases very seriously. Cases have been registered under Section 419 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with mischief by maiming or killing cattle apart from the appropriate laws involving cruelty towards animals.

A source in the National Investigation Agency who has been looking into the terror angles in Kerala says that these youngsters do not belong to any particular outfit. They could just be part of a unit from the city and could be asked to join any outfit depending on the requirement.

"It is not necessary that they are a part of a terror group alone; they could also take part in subversive activities such as killing and rioting during an election. There are sects in Kerala working independently and the larger issue to be looked into here is the battle for religious supremacy in Kerala. They feel that the Hindus are a threat to them and hence have decided to train themselves in order to counter any attack. They have been using animals for this purpose for sometime now, the source said.

"Such training camps are taking place in Kerala and the NIA has stated in many reports that the state is turning into a hub for terror activities. It is time that the state government and also so called animal rights activists wake up to the issue and put an end to this gruesome act," the official said.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru