They have right to life

Had New Delhi not treated Kashmiris like it did, the situation would have been totally different today. There would have been no turmoil and no insurgency

The International Human Rights day is round the corner. Seminars, debates and rallies will be held. But the situation will not change. The massive campaign of human rights defenders for the past two decades has made no difference. Abuse of rights continues unabated.

On the contrary, a campaign for protection of the rights of dogs has made a huge difference. There are around two lakh dogs in Srinagar city alone. The municipal authorities have procured poison but are scared of using it.  An activist in New Delhi has threatened them of dire consequences. 

On the contrary, the promises of the Prime Minister and the incumbent Chief Minister of upholding human rights have gone in vain. Killings, enforced disappearances and harassment of civilians continued unabated. The killings started in the month of January. There seems no immediate respite for the commoner in the near future notwithstanding the attention Kashmir has managed to get at the international level. What should, therefore, be done to prevent trampling of human rights? The dissident leadership has no answer and the human rights defenders are equally helpless.

Ever since it’s coming into being, the state human rights commission (SHRC) comes out with a detailed report every year. Every year, the SHRC expresses its helplessness and accuses the executive of apathy and indifference. A former chairman of he commission while seeking powers for the `impotent’ SHRC admitted that the body created to ensure protection and enforcement of the rights of the people was a "toothless tiger".  The local media has also repeatedly sought powers of a court for the SHRC but all in vain. To this day, not a single recommendation of the commission has been implemented. Different inferences have been drawn by different people. Human rights defenders believe that the sate was not interested in protection and enforcement of human rights. Some have gone to the extent of saying that the state was not competent enough to run a commission for human rights. According to them, the state was serious about protecting the right to life of the dogs.

I hate dogs but I envy them as well. I hate them because they cause a painful death and I envy them because in this neglected land where humans get killed day in and day out, the dogs are well protected. But why do I hate dogs? When I was a student of 3rd standard, I would go out on my bike almost regularly.  In my neighbourhood is a temple.  A bitch (forgive me for using this derogatory word for a she dog) had given birth to several puppies in a hole made in the foundation of a building. One day when I and my friend were having a joy ride on my bike, the bitch came out and inserted her canines in my right leg. She also decamped with several grams of my friend’s calf muscles. My father was a renowned veterinary doctor. He immediately took me to the hospital where I was given a dose of ARV (Anti Rabid Vaccine). The needle was inserted into my belly. For fourteen days I had to go to the hospital to get my belly pierced by big needles.  Since that day I hate dogs.
A few days later, the bitch had the gut to test her canines on a Sikh teacher from the nearby Khalsa High School. But to her dismay the bitch saw the gallant teacher disembark from his bike. In typical Bollywood style, he grabbed her jaws in his hands and punished her with death.  I always admired the teacher for his bravery.

 Why I envy the dogs? While doing my masters in journalism in Kashmir University in 1992, my friends, one day forced me to stay in the hostel with them for the night.  As ill luck would have it, the army stormed the campus that very night. In wee hours we were herded out of our rooms. We were directed to sit in the sprawling lawns of the hostel.  We sat there quietly for the whole day. Nobody was allowed to move. But some dogs moved around freely in the campus. Sometimes they would intrude into the area where humans were held hostage by fellow humans. How free they were? Nobody sought identity cards from them. Nobody frisked them. On the contrary the soldiers fed all of them. We anxiously watched them accepting food from our `adversaries’.  Only one among them had the courtesy to approach us. It came near and looked straight into the eyes of my friend. "It is enquiring about your welfare", I told him jokingly. He was quick to reply. "No, it is mocking at us", he said.

Dogs have the freedom of moving around freely. Unlike humans they are not subjected to torture. Nobody accuses them of being a militant or a Pakistani agent. Draconian laws like the Disturbed Areas Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act do not bother them. None among them has been subjected to enforced disappearance or killed in a fake encounter. What a life they live in Kashmir? To facilitate a smooth life for them, they have a good number of supporters at local, regional and international level. These supporters proudly call themselves Dog Rights Activists. All of them are active and have succeeded in forcing the municipal corporation to shelve poisoning of the revered species. The results are obvious. The dog population has increased to an alarming extent. According to local English daily there are as many as 100,000 dogs in Srinagar city alone.  Their population is increasing with every passing day and so is the number of their victims.

Some people say dogs are always faithful. When my friend ditched his girlfriend, she responded with a highly charged note. It read: “Acha hua sanam tum bewafa niklay; Ba wafa to kutay hua kartay hain." (Thank God you ditched me; only dogs can remain faithful).  But in Kashmir it is a different story altogether.   The local dogs whisk their tales when they come across a man in uniform. But on seeing a poor civilian, they start barking. While nobody raises his voice over massive violation of human rights here, the dogs are lucky to have potent supporters around. Any body who dares to utter a word against the dogs gets a waning from New Delhi. Had New Delhi not treated Kashmiris like they did, the situation would have been totally different today. There would have been no turmoil and no insurgency.

What makes the dog rights activists so potent in an area where nothing seems to be moving? The SHRC must sponsor an in-depth study into the matter to bring facts to the surface. Once it is one, the SHRC and all the human rights defenders will have many lessons to learn. Going to the Dog rights activists will not help because they are humans like us.  So let us go to dogs before it is too late.

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