Protest-prone state of Kashmir witnessed a rare demonstration on Saturday when civil society members hit the streets against growing population of dogs, which may cross Srinagar’s human population soon, and warned authorities to take action within week.
“Life has become hell as children, women and elders fear to come out from homes because of dog presence on every street. One fails to comprehend rationale behind protecting dogs.
When bird flu threatens human lives, poultry across the globe is culled and killed and same threat is posed by dogs here but they are protected,” said valley famous poet and satirist Zareef Ahmad Zareef, while heading a protection at Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
Zareef headed Valley Citizens Council was joined by members of bodies of government employees, traders, hoteliers and NGOs on Saturday to stage a protest march. The police, fearing violence, restricted the rally to Press Enclave area.
Past failed initiative
* The SMC arranged to train their staff in the art of catching stray dogs from a US team in Feb in 2011.
* Khursheed Ahmad Mir (54), an agriculture graduate with an MBA degree, who claimed to be a pied piper with scientific technology was rope in March, 2011 but charged Rs 20 crore. The experiment was shelved.
* In a separate initiative, planned to sterilize male ones and marking them with studs to avoid confusion. The SMC then submitted a Rs 4.5-crore project before the Animal Welfare Board, Government of India, for expert advice and funds for scientific sterilization of dogs.
* SMC selected agile dog catchers in November 2011.
“We are starting a mass contact programme if the government fails to take action within week. If there are places where dogs are eaten as dish, the Kashmir civil society will pay for transportation to ferry dogs. The government just make public a plan and never implement it,” said Zareef.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has plans to come up with pounds at Rs 900 crore over 2,500 kanals (312.5 acre) of land in Srinagar. It will take Rs 98 crore annually to maintain dog pounds. The municipality was also planning to sterilize female species with around Rs 800 cost of sterilising per dog. Both the projects have been shelved for due to bureaucratic hassles.
Srinagar with 14 lakh humans has 80,000 dogs, according to Dr Muhammad Salim Khan of the Community Medicine department. Fresh census suggest that around 10 lakh dogs are present in the valley and is likely to cross Srinagar’s population in next three years.
Dog menace is growing bigger as Srinagar hospital registered around 50,000 bites in the last five years. Last month, a 10-year-old was bitten to death in Srinagar.
Governor N N Vohra had to intervene this month when fast multiplying dogs were posing threat to endangered deer species of Hangul inside Srinagar’s Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary. The governor directed IG CRPF to remove dogs in 24 hours.
Wildlife Warden, Imtiyaz Ahmad, admits dogs presence pose threat to Hangul is in danger because of presence of dogs.