Uttar Pradesh minister Suresh Kumar Khanna on Saturday said the state government could not be held responsible for the deaths caused by stray dog attacks in Sitapur and neighbouring areas, ANI reported. There have been at least 14 stray dog attack-related deaths reported since November.

“If an animal enters a place and bites someone, how are the government and the administration responsible?” Khanna said.

On May 5, a 10-year-old boy was killed and one child was injured in separate incidents. This was a day after dogs killed two children and wounded as many. The dogs had mauled three children to death in Khairabad area on May 1.

Experts believe shortage of food after the crackdown on illegal abattoirs may be a reason for the aggression among dogs. “Earlier when the abattoirs were operational, the dogs used to get food in form of leftovers,” RK Singh, the director of Indian Veterinary Research Institute, told ANI. “But, with the closure of the abattoirs, there was a shortage of food for the dogs.”

Chief Minister Adityanath had announced the setting up of a committee to curb these attacks. “Effective action should be taken by forming joint teams comprising officials of the police department, animal health department, nagar palika and nagar panchayat,” Adityanath had said. “A team of experts from Lucknow and Bareilly should be called, and an investigation can be done.”

The state government had also declared that personnel would be given drones and night vision binoculars to monitor stray dogs.