Chandigarh/New Delhi, Jun 29: An opposition Congress MLA in Punjab has kicked up a controversy with his remark that stray dogs be sent to the northeast for "whatever they do to them" as a way to tackle the growing menace of these canines.
The suggestion by Ajit Singh Mofar was condemned by animal rights activists including BJP leader Maneka Gandhi who said it was "derogatory" to the people of the northeast.
The Congress too ticked off Mofar. "He (Mofar) is an avid skater and it will be better if he sticks to skating," AICC spokesman Manish Tewari told newsmen in Delhi.
Mofar moved a resolution in the assembly yesterday seeking to tackle stray dogs in the state by sending them to China, Nagaland and Mizoram for "whatever they do to them".
"We can make arrangements to catch such dogs, put them in jungle or zoos. Maybe we can then send them to Nagaland, Mizoram and China where they are more needed," he said in a veiled reference to the practice in some communities in northeastern states where dogs are killed for their meat.
"Stray dogs are such a big nuisance; even going on a walk has become dangerous because of them," he said voicing concern at the sharp rise in cases of dog bites in Punjab, with an estimated 15,000 such cases reported annually.
The resolution, which was moved to the amusement of the House, has angered animal rights groups.
"I find the remark derogatory for the people of North-East and like coming from an illiterate. Punjab government should take steps like sterilisation programmes, Maneka Gandhi said.
People for Animals president Saurabh Gupta said that no doubt, the issue raised by the MLA needs to be addressed at the earliest, but the 'solution' suggested by him is "not practical and ethical".
"It is inhuman and unethical. Dogs have the right to live as well," he said.
If the Punjab government attempts any such thing, we will drag them to court, he added.
Sunil Jakhar, legislature leader of Congress party, distanced himself from his colleague's remark.
"A dog is a man's best friend. Saying such things trivialises the issue. Personally, I am against this attitude," he added.