Kashmir: When the dogs came marching in
In ‘When the Ants Came’ (Leiningen Versus the Ants) Carl Stephenson (1893-1954) pitched Leningen against the invasion of mighty ants that ‘are the size of a man’s thumb consuming everything in their path and can pick the flesh of a horse in six minutes.’
Stephenson wrote (the invading swath of ants is),
“Ten miles long, two miles wide – ants, nothing but ants!”
Replace the ants by dogs and you have this story replicated in Kashmir, without of course any Leningen to fight this invasion. The invasion of dogs in Kashmir may have already started; on April 23 at least 51 people were reported to have been mauled by stray dogs in Srinagar in a single day, with the city centre Lal Chowk alone recording 13 attacks. The canine’s blood bath was on in Srinagar.
On January 21 this year, a 10-year-old kid in Lal Bazar of Srinagar was attacked by over a dozen stray dogs wounding him seriously with over a hundred bites. In yet another incident a mother and her 3-year-old kid were mauled by stray dog’s right outside their home in Rambagh area of Srinagar.
Now dogs have the audacity to walk right up to your door in Srinagar, maul people and roam free. In the habit of making big comebacks, these stray dogs again mauled over three dozen people on May 11, 2012 in Srinagar, most of the bites happening in downtown city.
The reported cases of dog bites and attack on humans have also seen a steep rise here. In 2006, 4500 dog bite cases were recorded by the main Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital of Srinagar, 9000 cases in 2010, while in the number of cases received in a single Srinagar hospital in 2011 was more than 7,200. These cases are apart from the thousands of dog bite cases received at district and sub-district level hospitals.
According to the Srinagar Municipality ‘dog census’ there are almost 91,110 dogs in the city, however a private estimate puts the figure of dog population in Srinagar to be almost 150,000. Some reports even claim that the stray dog population in Srinagar could reach two million by 2015, overtaking the population of humans in this city. A survey by the state’s health department found that 53,925 people were bitten by dogs between January 2008 and August 2011 in Kashmir.
Ironically the government here seems to be more concerned about dog rights than any human rights. Instead of culling rabid dogs, government has started a ‘state of art’ sterilisation programme for them. While the authorities claim to sterilise about 40 canines each day, this figure is too small in comparison to their growth, putting a question mark on this very exercise.
With the dog population multiplying many folds, what would a 40 dog per day sterilisation exercise achieve?
And the basic question that was asked last year by the then Chief Justice FM Ibraheem Kalif Ullah remains unanswered,
Will a dog stop biting after sterilisation?
Ironically while millions of rupees are being spent by the government on building modern stray dog ponds and shelters; it does not have any money for anti-rabies medication or immunoglobulin for the mauled humans.
The state seems to care for the dogs; it gives a damn for humans. Many people believe this dog business is being corporatised for monetary gains, the ‘multimillion dog sterilisation business’ being eyed by ‘connected people’.
A friend had this jest for the dog invasion:
Since India has failed to silence Kashmiri’s militarily, they have decided to feed us to dogs.
While the dogs continue to feast at humans by the covert support of an ‘inactive state’, Kashmir awaits its own Leningen.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.