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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Canine Paradox, Part-2

Go figure this out. Check out the two stories in the Greater Kashmir

Dog Attacks on Children Show Steep Rise in Valley

Srinagar: The government’s failure to check the increasing number of stray and rabid dogs in the Valley is showing dangerous ramifications on ground with canines wreaking havoc across Kashmir and targeting children.

Doctors in the SMHS Surgery Department told Greater Kashmir that a survey conducted has revealed that these dogs attack the minors between the age group of 0 to 10 years and inflict multiple bite injuries.

“For the last five years, the Department has received 1637 dog bite cases from across the Kashmir and out of these 34.02 per cent victims were children in the age group of 0 to 10 years,” the study revealed, adding that these figures were other than the cases reported by the Social and Preventive Medicine Department of the Government Medical College.

The study revealed that out of all the bite cases, 1134 were males and 503 were females and 994 patients were from rural areas and 643 from the urban places.

The study disclosed that 515 children were bitten by both stray and rabid dogs. According to the study, majority of these children suffered Category two and Category three bites (severe injuries). “Out of 515 children, 152 received grievous injuries (Category three) bites while as 328 received Category two wounds,” the studies showed, adding the kids were very vulnerable to the dog attacks as the canines are able to pounce on them.

According to the study, majority of these children had received bites on head, neck, upper limb and trunk. “During the treatment of these children, it was seen that the dogs had inflicted injuries on the left leg of the children while they were on the run,” the study said, adding that majority of the children were also bitten on neck and head.

The study showed that after children, the dog attacks were predominant in the age group of 21 to 40 years. “The dogs had also attacked 420 persons in this age group,” the study revealed, adding that 126 people had suffered category three bites while as 287 had received category two bites.

Sources said that many of these persons were attacked in the early morning or late evening.

The dogs, the survey said, had also attacked 294 teenagers in the age group of 11 to 20 years and 241 people above the age group of 40 years.

According to the medicos, the number of dog bite cases was increasing with every passing year. “With manifold increase of dogs across Kashmir, these incidents have shown steep rise over the years,” the medicos in the hospital told Greater Kashmir.

The medicos said that few days back, the hospital received a full blown rabies case from Noor Wali Uri. Bashir Ahmad son of Noor Wali of Uri was bitten by a rabid dog and was battling for life, they said, adding the attendants of patients later took him back to home as his condition became very critical.

The rabies patient, medicos said don’t have any chance of survival.

Govt Has Peanuts for Bite Victims, Millions for Dogs

At a time when the government has failed to provide life saving Immunoglobulin for dog bite victims at the SMHS Hospital run sole Anti Rabies Clinic (ARC) in the City, a whopping over Rs one crore have been spent on construction of dog pound at Shuhama, equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities like pre-operative and post- operative units where the canines are scheduled to stay during sterilization.

And the money which is being spent on the “dog welfare” isn’t any special package from funds meant for animal welfare but what the state government has pumped in from the resources meant for development of Srinagar.

The experts however are apprehensive of the benefits of dog sterilization pleading that by the time 40 canines would be sterilized 400 more would take birth in the City, which hosts around one lakh dogs while the MOS Home and MLA Amira Kadal Nasir Sogami says the accurate figure is: 91,110.

Sources said the dog pound at Shuhama on the City outskirts is complete for use adding that the SMC plans to start the sterilization this month.

“The dog pound, expected to house some four hundred dogs at a time, is ready,” said an SMC official associated with the project since its inception last year.

The construction, he said, came up on 19 kanal land, provided by the SK Agriculture University of Science at Technology (SKUAST) at its Shuhama campus in Alasteng.

An SMC Executive Engineer associated with the work said around Rs five million have been spent on the chain-link fencing of the pound alone while the rest of the money was spent on construction of separate concrete kennels with “well ventilated iron doors and glazed floor tiles”.

The SMC is understood to have signed an MOU with the SKUAST (K) and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for the construction of the pounds and subsequent sterilization of dogs.

The sources said the impounded dogs will be looked after by specialized people: Dog Caretakers. Each such caretaker will look after 25 dogs and provide them with food and other requirements.

“Around Rs 700 will be spent on the boarding and lodging of dog,” said a senior vet at the Shuhama varsity.

But the dogs won’t be sterilized randomly. “A team of doctors will look into the fitness aspect first. If the dog is healthy only then he will be sterilized and this examination will take around a day at the pre-operative units,” he said.

Once the sterilization will be performed, the dogs will be kept in post-operative care for two to three more days, he added.

Experts said the success chances of sterilization are bleak. “In the best case scenario, 50 dogs can be sterilized in a day, which means that no more than 1800 dogs can be sterilized in a year,” confided a senior vet posted at SK Agriculture University of Science at Technology at Shuhama. “Given the alarming population of dogs by that time 18,000 more canines might take birth,” he said.

The SMC, which has spent the public money on dog pounds, is tight lipped over the Shuhama development. Firstly, the officials have no reply to question on what action could be taken against rabid dogs?

“If bullets can be fired on humans in the name of law and order, why cannot rabid dogs be eliminated?” argues Imdad Saki, a prominent social activist seeking an end to the dog menace.

The SMC Commissioner, Dr GN Qasba, who is being termed as a “dog lover” for his recent statements to defend animal rights, couldn’t be contacted for comments. “Sahib is busy in a meeting,” said the man who picked his phone.

A SMC Joint Commissioner pleading anonymity said the money spent at dog pound wasn’t wastage of public money but for “welfare of humans”.

“Human welfare is in focus (by construction of pounds). We are doing it for citizens,” he said.

Even though the Anti Rabies Clinic at SMHS Hospital provides anti rabies vaccines free for now, the Immunogulobin –something vital for treatment of such victims –is nowhere available free.

The patients are left with no options but to get it from open markets at a cost which ranges between Rs 400 to Rs 3000, depending on brand.

The same came true for the family of three-year-old Dua Meraj who was recently mauled by dogs near her Habba Kadal residence. Her father, a driver by profession was left with no options but to buy it from open markets.

Pleading the failure Director Health, Dr Saleem-Ur-Rehman said there were budgetary constraints because of which the Immunogulobin couldn’t be given free. “We are trying to formulate a strategy to make it freely available,” he assured.

At one of the hearings on dog menace last year the then Chief Justice FM Ibraheem Kalifullah had posed a million dollar question to the courtroom which nobody could reply. And his query still looks for answers: Will a dog stop biting after sterilization?

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