Author: Saadut
•10:30 PM

There is a different kind of terror prowling the streets of Srinagar now, that of dogs. Residents of Srinagar have been frustrated by the alarming number of street dogs and over the past few years their numbers have been multiplying manifold. The reported cases of dog bites and attack on humans have also seen a steep rise here. In year 2006, 4500 dog bite cases were recorded by the main SMHS hospital of Srinagar which rose to 9000 cases in 2010. On March 14 this year 10-year-old Omar Farooq Sheikh lost his life after he slipped and downed in the Jhelum being chased and attacked by stray dogs near Zaina Kadal in downtown Srinagar. Some days earlier to this incident two more boys had lost their lives to stray dog attacks: a boy in north Kashmir Uri and another in the suburb town of Pampore were mauled by street dogs. Most of the victims of bog bites are reported to have been bitten by rabid dogs. Adding to this chaos is the deficiency of anti-rabies vaccines in Kashmir.

As per reports the stray dog population in Srinagar could reach 2 million by 2015, overtaking the population of humans in this city. These stray dogs sustain on the open garbage dumps in the city, waste disposals by the local municipal authorities having been utterly mismanaged. Localities also have been littering garbage openly providing enough food for these stray packs. In most of the cases it has been the vulnerable school going kids who have become the prime targets of these stray dogs. The threat of dogs is so serious that some localities become virtually out of bounds during evening hours when stray dog packs take over and patrol main roads in big groups. Strangely enough stray dogs have been seen to have made even the premier government hospitals of Srinagar as their dwellings, not to speak of local inhabitations where they already rule the roost. These ferocious canines have created fear psychosis among all sections of society, the morning walkers and the faithful who want to attend morning or evening prayers or the school children who seem to have become easy prey to these canines. Since the municipality garbage points in Srinagar are mostly open areas, in many such areas packs of 100 or more dogs are seen to feast around these uncovered garbage mounds.

Some years back a dog sterilization program to limit the population stray dogs was started by the municipal authorities here but the same was stopped immediately without any success. Residents have been aghast at the irresponsible attitude shown by the municipal authorities not only for waste disposal but also in controlling the stray dog population in Srinagar in particular and Kashmir in general. Strangely many here are not sure whether the central ‘animal birth control dogs' act is applicable to Jammu and Kashmir as it is elsewhere in India, since under article 370 central laws are only applicable to Jammu and Kashmir after these are adopted by the state legislature. A local resident quipped “'Strange irony that the state laws are very soft when it comes to shooting and killing the local humans here, but these laws side with the canines when dogs attack humans having become a threat to human life here'.

Civil Society Voices Concern

The dog menace became such a nuisance for Kashmir that on February this year the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir Dr Asgar Samoon voiced concern on social networking site Facebook by posting “Large packs of stray dogs move on Sgr (Srinagar) city roads”. He even asked his OSD to call a meeting of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and other concerned organizations. This post started a huge debate on social media about the need to curb it urgently. Many netizens shared their horrific experiences with stray dogs on the site, with the Divisional Commissioner Dr Samoon also commenting “True my heart goes for the young boy we lost recently in Uri due to dog bite. I agree all rabid dogs or those suspect be put to rest. Rest of stray population needs to be sterilized and scavenging minimized by SMC and other local bodies by better disposal of waste.”  Even after generating much debate and observations, not much was achieved on the ground by the concerned departments.

Judiciary intervenes

A PIL was moved on 1st April 2011 in the J&K High against growing dog menace in Srinagar. The PIL prayed for the court to issue appropriate directions to State government as well the municipal authorities for controlling the menace of stray dogs in the J&K and particularly in the capital cities of Srinagar & Jammu. The High Court on 28th April 2011 directed the state government to provide funds for construction of dog ponds on the outskirts of Srinagar and directed the concerned Municipal authorities to complete the task within four weeks. The court also directed the concerned authorities to start sterilization program in phased manner after the canines were shifted to these dog ponds. Action on ground by the concerned municipal authorities is still awaited.

No respite in place

With no respite in place, the residents of Srinagar have been repeatedly demanding action from the municipal authorities and government but without any success. With growing piles of open garbage across the city and the municipal authorities failing miserably in effective garbage disposal that provide excellent breeding grounds to these ferocious canines, this menace is sure not to go away so soon. Such is the fear of these stray canines that in many cases parents have to depute an elder along with children to tuitions or schools and in many cases children have been limiting their outdoor activities for the fear of getting mauled by these animals. Even lesser people dare to venture out in the evenings either for prayers in mosques or for other jobs for the fear of these stray dogs.

Before the 1.4 million population of Srinagar is overwhelmed and taken over completely by the expected 2 million dog numbers in a few years the authorities need to take immediate and effective steps to make Srinagar a human inhabited city.

As a local resident commented “the city has now gone to dogs and if authorities don’t take immediate steps, will be soon eaten up by dogs”.

July 04, 2011 

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On February 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM , Kenneth said...

I am a Westerner involved in the Travel Industry. I visited Kashmir in the 1980's, revisited in 2009 and have since recommended it to many of my clients as an extraordinary vacation destination. I read about the tragic attack by stray dogs on a young boy on Jan. 21. It will only take one savage attack on a tourist to severely damage Kashmir’s tourist industry. I personally will not recommend Kashmir to my clients until I read that this unsafe situation is rectified. Please take this seriously. ( I also posted this on Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's grievance cell website.)