How we define an animal. Any living being that is not a plant or human is called animal (the animal kingdom, which includes microbes, fish, insects, reptiles, birds and ‘animals’). Or, in a broader sense any living creature, including human beings other than plants. (That is why we say humans are the only animals to have developed speech). Also we define mammals are the animals which give birth to babies, not eggs and feed its young ones on milk (cows, whales and humans are all mammals).
Nowadays there are hosts of activists and groups who are lured to animals (minus human beings) and call themselves as ‘animal lovers’. They have assigned to themselves the “moral obligation” of defending the ‘rights’ of animals, in particular, the dogs. In that domain of theirs animals get perched high on the top order, whittling down the humans from ashraful-makhlookaat (crown of creature) status to as low as canines would not have envied. Is it another challenge to Darwin’s theory of evolution that seeds from ‘simple to complex’! Are we heading towards an ‘advanced’ stage of ‘civilization’ where we have got dethroned and ‘loyalists of loyals’ have held the reins of supremacy and “spirituality” in their “hands”! Or is it like taking perverted sense of pleasure in revolting against nature much as lesbians and gays have “excelled” in? You have a school going kid fleeing to “safety” in deep waters of Jhelum rather than be devoured by the stray dogs. And you enjoy dog’s writ is prevailing and has to.
Some questions crop up in this dog menace debate that is raging in our state over the last couple of years especially since the drowning of Zaina Kadal boy last month. Why silence is maintained from protagonists of rights of animals when insecticides and pesticides are used to kill say insects, pests and rodents? Not only when there is an apprehension of any break out of an epidemic but even in absence of that kind of threat. Why this activism is not displayed when fish are killed, hooked and dynamited across the globe on a large scale? They do not pose any threat to human habitation or disturb ecological balance either in sea or fresh water bodies. Millions of poultry birds are killed and eaten daily. All are not that lucky as some odd turkeys sent to White House on Thanks Giving ceremony for President’s meals. And in face of human life being in danger, didn’t we witness culling of poultry birds and closure of poultry farms? You don’t beat your chest? Don’t show concern. Or, if you mean animals only those in mammalian group and rule out other creatures from the group, then we ask why don’t you feel the pain of slaughtering the cows, bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goat etc? Where that benign sense of animal-love evaporates? And that is just to relish their flesh. Now when any animal of these species go mad should, and do, the world allow them to roam freely? Are not such diseased species quarantined and then killed? No one raises the objection, even not the ‘liberal’ democracies of the West which take a leading role in such kind of killing spree. Doesn’t this treatment by the governments smack of ‘cruelty’ inflicted on animals? But animal lovers are not seen screaming and lobbying against government measures aimed to protect their citizens from the menace they are put in.
In Kashmir, however, parameters of rationality and common sense change. This is a land where fulcrum of justice waits for a wink to appease the lords of various hues and colors. They enjoy in making valleyitees feel insecure and inferior to animals. Their eureka moment comes when dogs here carve their own “dukedom” and start opening ‘summary courts’ at the first bark and maul to death innocent children at the next growl – the execution stage. A “paradise” of ‘unique’ subjects where animal love-sick prosecute their own homo-sapiens in the canine courts.
Towns and cities in Valley, in particular the winter capital Srinagar, are virtually fed to dogs. As newspaper reports mention dog bites have menacingly increased. In 2007, 3772 cases of dog bites have been reported which have now escalated to 9000 cases in 2010. In 2008 four deaths caused by dog bites were reported from Srinagar only. Only a month before a ten year old boy Omar Farooq Sheikh (a third standard kid) was chased to death by marauding platoons of dogs in Zaina Kadal. Earlier two boys from Uri and Pampore were mauled to death by rabid dogs.
Garbage littered in open and not cleared in time by the municipal authorities provides unlimited food to the stray dogs which they eat to their fill. Lack of proper planning in Garbage disposal helps for the surge in dog population. Coupled with this callous indifference of the civic administration the role played by the security agencies deployed in the valley adds to the nuisance. They indulge in nurturing the dogs around their camping sites by providing them the nutritious diet which causes dog population grow exponentially. It is absolutely fatal for pedestrians, mostly children and elderly to go for early morning or evening prayer or attending tuition centres. So ferociously threatening the canines behave around the bunkers and camps that if you have not pulled down your glass windows, the chasing dogs might pull you out of your car. Pedestrians plight can be imagined. And don’t forget Srinagar has “won” a place in world’s 423 most dirty states.
It has been estimated that over one lakh stray dogs are on the prowl in Srinagar presently. With their high reproducing potential the veterinary experts say the number can swell to astonishing figure of two millions by the end of year 2015. ‘It has been estimated that two dogs can multiply to over three hundred in three years’.
Following a hue and cry over the surge in dog attacks and health hazards and nuisance caused to the citizens, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) have approached Animal Welfare Board of India. The SMC has finally veered to the sterilization of the stray dogs as, what its Commission claims, ‘the only solution to the chronic problem’. But observers see the sterilization ‘too lengthy a process’, which is ineffective in bringing down population of dogs in immediate future. The sterilization plan which costs millions of rupees, is supported by NC-led coalition government and its battery of concerned officials. The question is the sterilization might be a long term plan, but people want an immediate end to epidemic that has created fear psychosis and placed their lives in danger. The experts believe that ‘by the time ten dogs will be sterilized, twenty more will take birth’. And after sterilizing the stray dogs, do we get ensured they would lose their biting instincts and won’t go mad. Doesn’t it imply we have to bear population of one lakh dogs (you sterilized) for next ten years. Your therapy can, at the most, make dogs impotent but can’t change their entire physiology and canine behavior. Give us immediate solution. And state in clear terms where do valleyitees stand in your priority list. First or second to dogs? Do you want to save humans or dogs in this patch of land where everything is made to hold opposite by the rulers and their lackeys to what is observed elsewhere?
It is in this context that a civil society has on 8th April moved a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the state High Court accusing government of being ‘indifferent, unsympathetic and callous towards the woes in this regard’. The writ pleads that ‘the Animal Rights Group backed by senior politicians got the killing of stray dogs banned and pressed for alternate measures to be adopted for dog birth control, however, these groups didn’t provide any support to control dog population in Kashmir valley? It further prayed that ‘the Security Agencies may be asked to explain as to why they are indulging in nurturing dogs around camping sites posing threat to population’.
Safety of our citizens should hold the priority. So culling of stray dogs is most effective and immediate solution in curbing dog menace the valley is haunted by. After all human life cannot be fed to dogs. It is more precious than pack of canines going stray or mad. The state government should not hold the safety of people hostage to Animal Rights activists and its lobby in Delhi, especially when culling of flue infected poultry birds or mince-meat of various species of animals make them not lose their sleep. Still if the love of dogs can’t make them bear the ‘cruelty’, let them rear these ‘precious’ species in their homes or confines they raise – with the support of their political bosses.