Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Night in Hell and Not a Gun in Sight

The bad news is that terrorism still lurches in Srinagar. The good news it that it is not because of guns. A scribe for the Rising Kashmir describes his personal ordeal in a city overwhelmed by roaming dogs

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Hakeem Irfan

It was the biggest in town. It never made the continuous horrific and scary noise. But the rhythmic Dolby digital breathing of it was enough to make me sweat to the level I cannot explain. I was encountering one of the biggest canines in the city.

Around 11 in the night I was walking past Zero Bridge after completing an assignment at my office. My destination was Rainawari. I was walking the distance with my colleague, but at once we crossed Zero Bridge, our ways branched off. He headed towards Lal Chowk, and I headed for Rianwari. We were walking with our mobiles acting as troches. Some of the street lights were working but they were extremely dim. It seemed to be a perfect setting for the horror sequence.

I was anticipating an encounter with dogs. I had read the news paper reports about the growing dog menace in the city. I was now looking for the some pebbles. It is the only defence of humans against the canines, in Kashmir. Otherwise too Kashmiris have only stones to throw!

Soon a gang of dogs barged out from TRC ground, barking as loud as possible. The silence of night acted as the amplifier. The long barks with a pause for comparatively longer time made horror scenes flash in my mind that I had watched in the movies till date. But I refused to succumb to the horror and continued my night stroll.

Crossing the stretch of road spanning J&K Bank Corporate Headquarters was like to be hell and back. The vocal cords of the dogs had strained a bit and the noise was now diminishing. Actually the four of them tried to run after me, but somehow they lost interest, perhaps me not going to the gym saved me! Not the right pound of flesh!

Simultaneously the sweat droplets slithered down on my body, and I could well feel it. It made me laugh at my own self. The droplets of sweat were the only physical companions.

I managed to reach the three-way, where Boulevard bears on right. Another band of canines was shouting at each other; to settle some scores, I think! I never wanted to pay heed to it but they came too close to be avoided. I thought they were asking me to be their trouble shooter. I forcibly climbed an iron grill on one side of the road and stared at all of them. Under the flood of street lights all of them were visible. After few minutes of a barking session they all showed their teeth to each other and dispersed peacefully. I took a sigh of relief. I came down of the ‘higher pedestal’ and restarted my journey.

Scores of the canines were sleeping on the shop parapets. Some of them were just staring at stars. Others were gazing at me without any noise. It was the real testing time. I continued my night stroll. I was moving towards our favorite barbeque market Khayam.

As I reached Khayam Chowk, dozens of dogs were alerted. They were resting on the huge SMC garbage bin. It was a dog regiment. Soon, like the don, appeared a huge dog. It was one my friends of the same area who had talked about the same creature earlier. It was turning horrible. Nearly fifty dogs in front of me. Few of them appeared from the backside. I had no choice. Decisions had to be taken and executed is split seconds. I started reciting whatever I remembered of sacred. I started taking small light steps. Dogs started moving as well.

Everything was frozen this time. I was benumbed. No ideas. No thoughts. It was only how to cross Khayam unhurt. All the dogs were well built and the biggest one resembled the lion that I once saw in a Zoo, in New Delhi. I think the leftover of the barbeques had made them such.

The dogs started assembling on one side as if giving me the way. But I could not trust them. I took a step back. The few on the backside were still there. I decided to walk slowly. As I started walking, nearly fifty of them walked along, without making any sound. Just their breathing was audible. It could have been a good music for the some new Slumdog movie. They all just followed me up to the Nowpora Chowk, some Kilometer away, as an escort. But it must have been the first escort to scare the escorted.

Now I was near Shiraz Chowk, Khanyar. Suddenly Manika Gandhi flashed across my mind. Does she ever had any encounter with the dogs, like the one I had? Does she what stray dogs mean to ordinary citizens!? Or is she living in the world of Tommies and Nancies who never come out their master’s garden. The high breeds that have passports and the ones who are treated in the five star clinics or the birthday canines. That is why she opposes the killing of dogs. Is she against the killing of those who she has never met and has no firsthand experience of? Those Lactogen Tommies and puppies are very cute but, Mrs. Gandhi people have to face these non-vegetarian barbeque fed dogs that could tear a human being to pieces.

Meanwhile I reached Rainawari. I was a bit relaxed though dogs were still there. I was moving in a lane near my house. It was dark and I could just see what my mobile light could allow me to. I just stepped on the tail of a sleeping dog and it cried like anything. At last things turned ugly. I started running. Dog also started chasing and barking. It was a female as the voices of few small puppies could also be heard. I managed to enter my house and it continued barking at me. It was an unhappy ending.

When I entered the kitchen I saw my Kurta torn from the back side. The dog had got something of me, at least! Soon my cell phone rang. It was my colleague. He had the same story. He was trapped near Poloview. Dogs had surrounded him. He too shouted back. He said this is what he could do. He managed to enter the office of one of the newspaper. All he could do was cursing me for the decision of taking that late assignment.

I remembered the English number, "Who let the dogs out?"

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