(Mr. Mohammad Shafi Ayaz, 47, was born in Anantnag, and continues to live in the same town. He studied in various state schools, colleges and universities. He has completed his MBA, and is a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers(CAIIB), and is working on a doctorate thesis on “Non Performing Assets in Indian Banks." He is a banker and Director of the Jammu & Kashmir Bank (JKB) Rural Self Employment Training Institute, Kulgam. Mr. Ayaz has three publications - two in Urdu, one comprising of fictions/short stories titled as “Dard-i-Pinhan” (Hidden Pain), and the third comprising of poetry titled as “Talash-i-Sahar”(In Search of Dawn). He has also published another short book in “Interest Free Banking.” He writes on various topics in the Daily Kashmir Images, Weekly Shuhab and Weekly Sabzar. Earlier he contributed articles to two leading Urdu dailies of the Valley - ‘Aftab’ and ‘Srinagar Times’.)
Dog Menace in Kashmir
Kashmir is known as Paradise on Earth; in more familiar terms as “Wadi-e-Gulposh”. But now, its residents dare to rename it valley of stray dogs. The increasing number of stray dogs has put human life at a great threat. Reportedly more than 11,000 attacks by stray dogs have taken place last year and even claimed many lives. These are the registered and publically known figures, otherwise, the actual number is much higher. The stray dog menace has a terrific face as well and that is kids are the main victims. School- going children and those playing out in the evening or dark hours are the soft targets of the canine beastliness. After sunset, people in certain areas of Srinagar City and in major towns of the valley do not dare move out of their homes due to reigning threat unleashed by the stray dogs out there.
A recent survey has revealed that the stray dogs in Kashmir mostly attack minors aged between 1-10 years and inflict multiple bite injuries. Out of 1637 dog bite cases reported in a single hospital (SHMS Hospital Srinagar) during the last five years, 34.02 percent victims were children. Majority of these children had received injuries on head, neck, upper limb and abdomen. Study also confirmed the fact that many of the dog attacks had taken place in the early morning or late evening hours and the number of canine attacks in the valley increased with every passing year.
They also pose a great threat to pedestrians, cyclists or two wheeler riding persons at dusk. They chase these riders or frenziedly cross the street unexpectedly. The result is obvious; injuries to the chased. Those going to Masjid to offer prayers early in the morning or late in the evening are also come under their attack. Shopkeepers and others coming late to their homes also have to face these attacks. Even in some cases, a lone person is attacked by a herd of these ruthless animals.
Everybody knows dog bites result in risk of contracting “Rabies”. The saliva carries virus which enters the human body through the wounds. This virus affects Central Nervous System causing the inflammation of the brain. If not treated immediately, it can cause coma and eventual death due to respiratory insufficiency.
The issue of dog menace is a hot top in the valley nowadays. Civil Society has raised the issue at various levels. Street rallies, posters, media and judiciary have been involved in projecting this problem to get rid of it. Civil Society has expressed its high concern over it. The dog biting is turning into a wide spread terror in valley. Every day reports are coming about cases of dog bites from various parts of the valley. It is pertinent to mention that our valley has not 24X7 electricity supply; so many villages remain often without electricity for days/ weeks together. There are so many damaged street lights as well and in these circumstances the dog biting is facilitated as it is the right occasion for stray dogs to bite or attack anybody. This has compelled the common man to remain confined to his home from early evening to late morning. People are so much afraid that shopkeepers try to down the shutters of their shops earlier to reach home before evening. Likewise so many persons are now offering morning and evening prayers (Namaz) at their homes and the children avoid playing in play fields outside their homes after school hours or after sunset. This situation is no less than a ‘house arrest’.
Previously, the population of dogs was being controlled by so many measures like poisoning but later on, legislation made it mandatory that nobody kills a dog and the act has been made a crime punishable under law. Let us admit and obey it, but how can the population of dogs be controlled and how this dog biting terror is stopped? State government had come up with a plan for Srinagar City according to which SMC was directed to construct around 1800 ponds for dogs in the outskirts of Srinagar City near Ganderbal. The proposal revoked a sharp resentment from the locals resulting in halt of the proposal. Likewise there was a proposal of sterilizing dogs but it was not started as reportedly it was resented by some animal right activists. These facts reveal that there seems no way to root out the dog menace.
The government should have first found the reasons of increasing dog population and dog biting. During the last two decades or so, our valley has suffered at various fronts and there have been some un-natural changes. This is one of them. With the installation of camps of Security forces in city and towns, the wasteful edibles from these camps used to be thrown outside which the stray dogs found as a gift. They too camped near these places and enjoyed the food like anything. Here they changed their behavior and in an attempt to show their authority at these places they started barking on passersby and later on exhibited their natural instincts of biting. When the population of these dogs increased they came to nearby streets and behaved likewise. Another issue is that the government is thinking and making plans to check dog menace in Srinagar City but this is the issue of other major towns of the valley also! So why to restrict these plans to Srinagar City only. With regard to making ponds for the street dogs or sterilizing them, does it mean that the dogs will stop biting? Some logical, reasonable, applicable and meaningful planning is required to tackle this problem. Mere announcements and giving assurances cannot save the people of the state from the canine brutality. The problem needs an immediate solution. Society cannot live in this situation and wait to see when the government takes some effective decision. It is important to know when the dog biting stops in the valley. If it is not answered, there is every possibility and apprehension that the dog bite terrorized people may act at their own to tackle this problem which may not be liked by law or rulers of the land. There is a big question. “Is life of a human important or that of a dog, that too when dogs are attacking humans”—please answer.
5 Lawyers for Canines, 1 For Humans
AT a time when the dog menace has assumed alarming proportions and over a dozen fell prey to deadly bites almost everyday in this summer Capital, there’s a single lawyer pleading the case of humans while some five plead canines.
This is true for the ongoing hearings of the PIL against dog menace filed by an NGO. While the petitioner pleading humans is one, those pleading the case of canines are many including the counsels for the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (SPCA), which has been striving for “time consuming and costly sterilization” as the sole solution to the problem.
Even though the people are up in arms against the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for giving “dog friendly” statements whenever the bite complaints pour in, nobody has come forward to legally plead the case of victimized humans.
The only voluntary endeavor, which popped up was from Viva, an NGO, which last year filed a PIL against the dog menace.
Since then though the people many times took to streets against the growing population of dogs, nobody moved Court.
HCBA WILLING BUT…
Though admitting that the dog menace was deadly, the High Court Bar Association(HCBA) didn’t come forward to plead the case. Commenting over the issue, noted lawyer and HCBA President Mian Qayoom said it was because nobody came forward with a complaint.
Asked why the HCBA didn’t volunteer to move Court, Qayoom said it could have raised eyebrows. “It could have been seen as some vested interest,” the lawyer told Greater Kashmir.
He however said he would personally plead the case provided people come forward with the complaint of dog menace. “I will contest it, provided somebody comes forward,” he said.
Sometime back, Advocate Mir Syed Latif who was pleading the case on behalf of AWBI and the SPCA withdrew pleading “moral responsibility.”
Latif, a prominent lawyer had confided that he was facing lot of criticism, including that from his family for pleading the case of the dogs that they be sterilized.
And the turning point, Latif said, came some two months back when a 10- year-old boy of Wangnoo family of Lal Bazar was mauled by dogs with over hundred bite marks on his body “prompting” the lawyer to give up the case.
THE STERILIZATION FACTOR
Though the National Conference led government has been pleading for the sterilization as the sole solution to the problem, experts are apprehensive of its benefits saying by the time 40 dogs would be sterilized, 400 more will be born.
Pertinently the SMC aims to sterilize around 40 dogs a day, at the state-of-the-art dog pound at Shuhama that as been constructed at a whopping cost of over Rs one core out the money meant for City development.
THE DEADLY STATISTICS
While the general perception is that over one lakh dogs are on prowl in the City, MOS Home and MLA Amira Kadal Nasir Sogami recently announced that the accurate figure was 91,110.
As about the dogs, they are feared to prove worst this year because there was an unusual surge in the number of dog bites during winters. This year alone, over 1600 cases of bites have been registered at SMHS Hospital run Anti Rabies Clinic(ARC), the sole government facility for administering dog bite cases in the City.
For now the dog bites have broken all previous records with almost 80% increase in the deadly cases within a year. From 4230 cases reported in 2010, the number swelled to 7257 in 2011. The actual figures could be even bigger as this data pertains to cases administered at the ARC in Srinagar alone.
There’s another record about the dog bite cases as most of the cases were Category-3 Bites, considered deadliest.
And people have to pay heavily for the dog bite cases as the government has failed to provide Immunogulobin free to the bite victims and such patients are left with no options but to get the comparatively costly medicine from the open markets, where it costs around Rs 400 to 2500, depending on the brand.
Queries on dog menace are many. One such is that why doesn’t the SMC take action against rabid dogs? The general argument is that if bullets can be fired on humans to maintain law-and-order, why aren’t rabid dogs taken to task?
Though last year the administration has issued shoot-at-sight orders against the rabid lot, the orders were revoked within a day. Questions are being raised even on the revocation of the orders.
But the million dollar question posed by the then Chief Justice FM Ibraheem Kalifullah remains unanswered: Will a dog stop biting after sterilization?
Passing the Dogs - A Tale of Unwanted Animals
Ganderbal: In the last few months Dogs from Srinagar have made more headlines than any other animal species, even making their presence felt on BBC, but for all wrong reasons.
They are the number one enemy of the locals, and state is helpless to restrict their growth.
In winter fearing that inhabitants of city may stone them to death, government created dog pounds in Ganderbal to save the canines from the public outrage. The move has not gone well with the residents of Ganderbal.
The residents allege that trucks loaded with dogs from Srinagar city are getting dropped in different villages of the Ganderbal district during night.
Villagers of Kurhama, Wahidpora, Pandach, Duderhama, Beehama, Tawheed Chowk, Gangerhama, Saloora, Wanipora, Bamloora, Fatehpora, Malshahibagh Bagh and other areas of the district allege that Srinagar municipality drops loads of dogs every night in their villages.
The story is not different in different villages of Kangan Tehsil including Gund, Ganiwan and Mammar villages as well.
“We fear apprehensions about the safety of our school going children due to the large number of stray dogs here,” said Imtiyaz Ahmad of Duderhama.
“We have to escort our children, women and guests to reach their destinations due to the fear of dogs,” said a group of resident of Gund. He also said many people have been bitten by these dogs from last few days, adding that Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal should direct the concerned department to take the steps against this menace.
“We appeal to the Municipal Committee authorities to wake up from the deep slumber and take stern measures against the alarming growth of dogs, which has paralyzed the normal life,” said another local.
Executive Officer, Municipal Committee Ganderbal was not available for comments.