Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala government's decision to cull 'dangerous' and 'rabies-infected' street dogs has a backlash in the state, the country and abroad.
Several online campaigns including #BoycottKerala have intensified with animal rights activists and veterinary doctors expressing their vehement opposition.
"I am against culling of dogs. I won't kill my grandmother who is suffering and is entirely dependent on us for everything. Why should we cull street dogs? We can't take lives," says veterinary doctor Marthandam.
Despite the protests, Kerala government has remained firm on its decision. Officials say that doing away with 'dangerous' street dogs will make the state more tourist friendly.
Animal activists have called for boycott of Kerala, Kerala products, and Kerala tourism. The Kerala Dog Culling Worldwide Protest page on Facebook reads: "We pledge to #BoycottKerala (tourism & products) till The #KeralaDogCulling orders are not revoked by the Govt. Till Kerala doesn't stop abusing animals."
After a public uproar earlier, the state government had decided to sterilize 500 dogs in each district each day with special camps and 50 specialised centres for the Animal Birth Control Procedures.
But many residents still say that they fear walking on the streets because of the stray dogs.
According to state statistics, there were over 1,60,000 dog bites in the last one year.
Santosh Sahadevan, a businessman was bitten six times in a single day while taking a walk outside his house in a posh locality of Thiruvananthapuram.
"Street dogs need to be killed. Government does not have the money and time for this. Let activists adopt all these street dogs and raise them up. We want freedom from street dogs," said Mr Sahadevan.
In response to the #BoycottKerala Campaign, many like Congress lawmaker from the state Shashi Tharoor have endorsed a counter-campaign petition - "Stop the hate campaign against Kerala", which says the protests are an outcome of misunderstanding facts, and believing rumors.
Mr Tharoor had tweeted saying, "Keralites may not have handled stray dogs well, but that's no reason to hate the state".