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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Only in Kashmir - Dog Rights Versus Human Rights

Sajad and two other commentators address a really serious problem confronting the valley

(Mr. Sajad Ahmad Padder, 27, was born in Veeri, Tehsil Bijbehara, District Anantnag. He did his early schooling at the Government High School in Nanil, Anantnag, and his senior schooling at the Government Higher Secondary School in Bijbehara, Anantnag. Mr. Padder completed his B.A. degree from Government Degree College in Ananatnag, and received his M.A. in Political Science from the University of Kashmir, Srinagar. He also completed a Bachelor's degree in Education from the Government College of Education, Srinagar. Currently, Mr. Padder is a research scholar in the Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir, Srinagar. He has done his M. Phil on the topic “India-Pakistan Composite Dialogue Process, Issues & Actions”. Presently he is pursuing his PhD on “India-Pakistan Trade Relations”. He has participated in several local & national seminars. In 2009 he participated in the 8th Intra-Kashmir Dialogue held in Srinagar on Oct. 9-11, 2009. He enjoys writing commentaries.)

Gone to Dogs

One of the serious problems which the valley of Kashmir is facing is the exponential growth of dog population and the sense of insecurity caused by them. Stray dogs pose a threat to human’s particularly in morning and in the evening. People feel scared to go outside their homes to visit their fields because of these dogs. Parents do not allow their children to play outside their homes and even many elders feel frightened to go for morning and evening prayers. The incidents of ‘dog biting’ are on the rise and many people have died due to Rabies. Most of the victims have been children below the age of 10 years. The government shows inability to take any action and the helpless society merely looks on as people continue to suffer. Whenever anybody poses a question to government and concerned departments on dog menace, they refer to some court cases and campaign carried by some animal rights activists. Despite too many cases of dog bites, government is yet to come up with any plan to end this menace in the valley. Even there is shortage of anti rabies drugs in district and sub -district hospitals.

Usually the municipal administrations used to deal with this menace by relocating dogs from urban to rural areas. This is not a viable option. I have seen many incidents of dog biting in the villages where proper treatment is unavailable in the local hospitals. This results in the reverse shift of patients to urban centres in exchange of dogs. On this occasion few questions strike my mind every time when the village people claim of this derogatory practice: Are villagers less human? Why do they have more value as voters and less as citizens of a state/nation? Stray dogs bite people irrespective of their identity, chase them when they go to prayers early in the morning, and scare away children. Stray dogs can be seen in large groups around garbage dumps in the residential areas. These dogs have made the life hell, particularly for women, children and old age persons.

At present there are more than 2 lac stray dogs on prowl in Srinagar city alone. Surveys reveal that if there is no action initiated against the dog menace, by 2015, population of stray dogs will rise up to 2 million due to their high rate of breeding. On my first day as a PG student in the Department of Political Science in Kashmir University (2006), I was welcomed by a pack of dogs in the lawns of said department. I was fortunate to escape their bite. The second encounter with them was in the dining hall of S.A. Boys hostel when dogs have made a safe entry from the backdoor in 2009. Since then I am worried by the dangerous proportion of dogs in the University Campus. I showed my concern to all people from friends to foreigners and from students to scholars but nobody seemed interested in the debate. Then I chose to remain silent.

In May 2011, we were playing cricket in the lawns of Gani Kashmiri Research Scholars (GKRS) Inn. Suddenly a loud, fearful and dreadful cry from the auditorium side caught our attention. We were surprised to see pursue of a student in the mouth of a dog who was pulling it apart with impunity. Then we chased the dog for almost half a mile and were successful in bringing back the purse. In the last week of June 2011, again we were horrified by another incident. As we were playing cricket in the said lawns, a frightened loud cry from the same auditorium side, but on this occasion the case was quite a sensitive one. I could see a mother and her child both weeping mercilessly. The mother had taken a slight walk towards the convocation hall when her small kid was attacked by gruesome dogs. Thank God! by the timely intervention of by-passers, the child could be saved. Otherwise, the mother’s world could have ended then and there. The point is that the Kashmir University too has become a safe nursery for dogs. Of course, animals too have certain rights. But the question is that in case of a confrontation between animal rights or human rights, whose rights should get preference?

Barking Dogs Never Bite? In Srinagar They do

Srinagar: Residents in this Jammu and Kashmir capital literally watch their step when stepping out -- for fear of stray dogs that bite people, attack livestock and create havoc. The government appears clueless on how to tackle the menace.

"During the last 12 days, over 60 people have been here in the hospital with dog bites," a doctor at the city's SMHS Hospital said.

The stray dog population in this City of 1.4 million human beings has been rising at an alarming rate, reaching over 100,000 in the last four years if animal rights activists are to be believed.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was also moved in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court nearly six months ago seeking directions for the state authorities to handle the growing population of stray dogs in the City.

"The government pleaded before the honourable court that the dog population of the City would soon be sterilised. Upon this, the presiding judge told government counsel 'would the dogs not bite after being sterilized'?" said a lawyer who has been keenly following the case.

Khurshid Mir, an agricultural graduate who works for a pest control organization, had offered to rid the city of the menace provided the government extended him the required financial and infrastructural support.

"I have heard nothing from them since I last met the divisional commissioner. Perhaps they did not take my offer seriously," Mir told IANS.

A senior official at the provincial headquarters said the government did not have a mechanism to negotiate with such a person.

"Offers would have to be invited and how can the government negotiate with somebody who makes a claim that has never been tested?" the official said when asked about the proposal by the pest controller.

Bashir Ahmad, 54, a businessman, said: "The City's biggest handicap while handling the growing dog population is legal restrictions imposed on poisoning stray dogs.

"In the past, the municipal authorities would administer poison to stray dogs over periodic intervals to keep their population under check. That option having been ruled out, sterilization, relocation, etc, would not check the menace," Ahmad said.

Residents of Srinagar City are complaining of the serious threats the stray dogs pose to them.

"We have to guard our children from being bitten on the streets which are heavily infested with stray dogs. Even going to the mosque at dawn and dusk for prayers involves a definite risk of being bitten by dogs," said Showkat. (IANS)

It is a Dog-Problem Here…

The ever increasing menace of stray dogs has assumed alarming proportion in the valley and appears to have become inevitable and sine-quo-non. The authorities at the helm of affairs have turned mute spectators with regard to the said nuisance which has already consumed precious lives and subjected common people to inexplicable hardships and injuries. Govt. is watching all this dreadful incidents with their open eyes but has kept itself advertently blind-folded showing no concern for finding panacea of this menace whatsoever.Earlier government used to kill the canines to save the noble souls but after the formulation of animal rights wings / NGOs for safeguarding so called rights of animals, the authorities ignored the very basic rights of the human beings and gave preference to the rights of animals under the camouflage of the court order without having recourse to other available measures.

Ironically, the Hon’ble Apex Court on 23rd of January, 2009 in the case (SLP) titled “Animal Welfare Board of India V/s People for Elimination of Stray Trouble & Ors.” stayed the operation of impugned order and judgment dated 19.01.2008 passed by the Mumbai High Court whereby the latter had allowed killing of nuisance dogs by the Municipal Commissioner under Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act.Astonishingly, the matter has been lingered in the Hon’ble Apex Court for pretty long time with the adoption of dilly delaying tactics resorted by the parties concerned.

Notwithstanding the health hazards posed by the said menace, nobody seems to be bothered to look for remedy of the nuisance. The most heart rending episode which recently took place in the Shar-Khas at Zaina Kadal, Srinagar when a teen-ager boy was wildly chased by the canines which culminated into the drowning of the teenager in the River Jhelum. This incident sent shivers down the spine of the people of the valley especially local residents.Much water has already flown down the Jhelum and the menace has almost assumed epidemic situation which has vanished the level of tolerance among the common masses. There is no other way left with the people but to act themselves to eradicate this nuisance from this society for the Govt. has failed on all fronts to address this issue.

Primarily, it is the duty of the Govt. / NGOs to combat such dangerous situations but owing to their failure on all fronts, people are bound to rise to the occasion and take all necessary measures to get themselves rid of the menace.It is a known fact that populations of species are kept in check through natural predator-prey relationships. Stray dogs have no predators to keep their population in check. It has been observed that when such relationships break down, other natural processes come into play. This includes appearance of hitherto unknown viruses and micro-organisms that can be passed on to humans. Medicine / sterilization often has no ready answers to such micro-organisms and it may take months and years to develop effective lines of treatment. Under such circumstances, the results may be catastrophic. The AIDS virus is one such virus that has been passed to humans from animals.

I would especially like to hear from those in the legal profession from the Govt. as well as NGO’s as to what they have done thus far to reclaim the citizens' right to safety and security.Duty is cast upon the Govt. / NGOs to rise above their partisan interests and pay heed towards this grievous problem and find out amicable and feasible solution to the issue, otherwise people will be forced to come on the streets and agitate against the said menace. (A. M. Zargar)

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