Philanthropist leads mass hunger-strike for rabies-free India 

Published on: 11:59 pm, March 19, 2016 Story By: Jose Kavi, Matters India Reporter

New Delhi: An Industrialist-turned philanthropist Saturday led a 24-hour hunger strike in New Delhi to draw national attention to stray dog menace in the country.

The alarming stray-dog nuisance has affected millions of lives in India, explained Kochouseph Thomas Chittilappilly while his campaign for a rabies-free India at Jantar Mantar, a venue for public protest in the national capital.

The chairperson of the “Stray Dog Free Movement (SDFM), regretted that country has witnessed numerous cases of non-vaccinated dogs biting mostly kids, women, pedestrians and slum dwellers.

The 66-year-old founder chairman of V-Guard Industries Ltd and a chain of amusement parks regretted that the issue has not received adequate national attention despite efforts by numerous voluntary and social organizations in the country.

dogs2He says his group organizes similar hunger strikes in various parts of India to highlight the concerns of “the voiceless millions” in the country.

Several stray dog attack victims and their families attended the New Delhi program that was briefly disrupted by a group of slogan shouting animal lovers. They protested what they said was Chittilappilly’s call to kill stray dogs by paying a 50-rupee fine.

However, they left the place when a Muslim couple from Jamia Nagar, a south Delhi area, narrated how their 7-year-old son Mamom Ansari was bitten to death by stray dogs in August 2015. Ansari’s young friends, who narrowly escaped the dog attack, told the gathering that they are afraid to play in the open after the incident.

Speakers at the hunger strike clarified that the campaign did not support mindless killing of stray dog, but want save humans from rabies.

George Sleeba, executive director of Kochi-based K Chittilappilly Foundation says the industrialist was compelled to launch SDFM after his charitable trust several requests for medical help from victims of dog bites. “Among the 50 applications for help we received 25 were from dog bite victims,” Sleeba, who is also SDFM joint secretary, told Matters India.

dogs 4The vaccines to treat rabies are worth 1 billion dollar industry in India, he added.

Earlier, Chittilappilly quoted a report from the Working Group on Disease Burden that noted that India accounted for 36 percent of the 55,000 rabies deaths worldwide. Although India records 27.5 million cases of animal bites annually, the government gives more attention to campaigns such as clean India, he regretted.

The campaign has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to amend the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules of 2001 that gives preferential treatment to dogs.

Several organizations and forum in Delhi supported the hunger strike.

Chittilappilly, who hit heads in 2011 by donating one of his kidneys to a poor daily wager, had staged similar protests in Kerala’s major cities of Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.

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