At least 120 stray dogs have been killed across Kerala's Ernakulam and Palakkad districts in the last one week, DNA reported on Friday. Animal rights activists have accused the state government of not stopping the culling despite a Supreme Court directive on the atrocity.

"People are strangulating puppies, lactating female dogs, and the government is neither opposing it, nor stopping it," said Sally Kannan, an honorary animal welfare officer at the Animal Welfare Board of India. Kannan also accused Ernakulam-based businessman Chiittilappilly and social worker Jose Maveli of openly asking people to kill strays. "Even children are being encouraged to kill strays," she said, adding that those arrested for the culling were being released on bail.

Other activists have alleged that the two had hired an executioner to kill dogs in public view, and that rewards were being offered to make Kerala a stray dog-free state. On October 4, the Supreme Court had asked the state's chief secretary to file an action taken report in the matter. A bench of the court had also directed the state to ensure that no further culling took place in Kerala.

Animal rights activists as well as lawyers have opposed the culling of stray dogs in Kerala. On August 24, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan had written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, saying that the killing of the animals was a violation of the Supreme Court's orders on the subject. However, Vijayan had said that the state was setting up "sterilisation camps for ferocious dogs" and not culling them.

In May, the apex court had also agreed to examine a law that discriminates between the crimes of killing a stray animal and a pet. While killing a stray involves a fine of Rs 50, an individual could face up to five years in jail for a similar crime against a pet. According to rules issued by the government of India in 2001, local authorities are supposed to work with animal welfare organisations to implement a sterilisation programme, known as the ABC (Animal Birth Control) Programme. The rules say that stray dogs, after being sterilised and vaccinated, should be released back into the area from where they were taken.