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Heartless administration

The heart-wrenching story of a 6-year-old girl mauled to death by stray dogs in Sopore is the mirror image of inhuman and beastly attitude of the people in the state administration. Identified as Hadiya Mushtaq, the hapless girl was attacked by a pack of dogs at Wadoora when she was coming back from Madrassa on Monday evening. The child was fatally wounded causing her on-spot death. This is not an isolated incident that the people in power would get away with benefit of doubt. The dog-man conflict has remained a serious problem over the years in Kashmir, and despite protests from citizens the concerned authorities have criminally disregarded the issue. The government, by its own admission, says that more than 20000 citizens, mostly children, were bitten by dogs across Kashmir, last year. In a written reply to National Conference leader and MLA Khanyar, Ali Mohammad Sagar’s question, the government informed the Legislative Assembly that from January to November 2017, Kashmir registered a total of 20098 dog bite cases. The most dog bite cases were recorded in Srinagar. The SMHS Hospital’s, Anti-Rabies Clinic received a massive 6825 dog bite cases. It is a usual phenomenon little moving the authorities to take measures to check the menace. Earlier staggering 80,000 cases of dog bites were recorded between 2012 and 2016. As many as 24 people were reported to have died of rabies during this period. According to official records, nearly half of the cases of dog bites happen to be the Class III bites—where the victim has one or further bites, scratches, licks on broken skin, or extra contact that breaks the skin. The uncontrolled population of dogs is reported to be the cause of growing canine-human conflict. The Srinagar city alone is reported to have over one lakh population of dogs. That means for every 13 persons is one dog. Treading in early morning or late evening hours is fraught with dangers of being attacked by dogs anywhere and everywhere in the city. There is no lane, by lane or street that is devoid of dogs, and their population is increasing at geometrical progression. The scenario is all the more similar in rural Kashmir. The gory images of the Sopore girl are chilling rejoinder to the state administration to wake up. But they continue to be in slumber giving the impression that the suffering people meant little to them. Reports suggest that if dog-population is allowed to remain unchecked it would, in the next five years, take over the humans and could go to up 20 lakh. School children are the most vulnerable lot to dog-attacks. Several school going children fell victim to the stray dog-bites ever since the menace surfaced in the valley. At least 5000 children, most of them school going, have been bitten by dogs in the past five years. Dogs also pose serious threat to people who have to leave for work early morning or who go for early morning walks or return late nights from work. While stepping into an unknown lane during these hours is dangerous. What is equally dangerous is to enter your own lane. It appears that the government is more concerned about the dogs than humans. Some years back when state administration, under pressure from local media, showed some modicum of concern, here came the intervention from New Delhi. Manika Gandhi hurried in on a three-day visit to review the measures taken by the state government for the ‘welfare of dogs’. The humans meant little to her. The state government obliged her by taking her to Shumama dog pounds which are like more a health resort with all the medical and environmental facilities. The state-of-the-art pounds are said to have facilities more than Kashmiri children have at the premier G B Pant Children hospital. While the people have been seeking an end to dog menace, the Government is yet to make up its mind as how to tackle it. The municipal authorities need to take measures of immediate result to check the dog population, common people too should do their bit. They should realize the gravity of the crime they commit by irresponsibly throwing the wastes in public places instead of properly disposing them off.