This is a series of posts on Kashmir where getting a head-start into writing has been a nightmare since it seems a highly personalized polarized situation. So we’d refrained comment without any clear evidence in our hands. However now we’re in possession of a bunch of official documents – which we’re digitizing and putting out and asking the relevant questions that arise from them. As with the other writing on ‘The Voice of Stray Dogs’, unless otherwise specified, the article is authored by Rakesh Shukla and expresses the opinion of Rakesh Shukla & The Voice of Stray Dogs, and not necessarily that of VoSD Board members since individual comment/ contribution and consent is not sought.
It has been difficult to put together an account of what is happening in Kashmir to say the least. For the longest time neither was there any clear information available with us, nor any clear references – with a muddled equation between SMC-AWBI-SKUAST and no real AWO’s on the ground. Till we got the 1st real document which shows what is really happening – and it shows that AWBI is a party to this decision making about pounds and in a controversial facility.
These are the minutes of the meeting of the advisory committee on 4 Aug 2011 at the Srinagar Municipal Commissioners office (SMC) [Minutes of the meeting on Kashmir’s proposed dog pounds in Aug 2011]. It shows that the people present (Committee) included
- The Commissioner of SMC
- The Director of the Animal Husbandry Department
- Dean of the Vet College
- Member of AWBI
- Vet Officer SMC
The meeting was in the backdrop of a High Court directive to the SMC to create dog pounds for Srinagar’s dogs.
The Commissioner SMC went on record that Khimber (30KMs from Srinagar) has been identified as the location to create these dog pounds. Further that the work had already started at Khimber on the creation of these pounds. However the committee on a site visit found the location not usable for distance, monitoring and costs.
The alternate location was the Veterinary college at Alasteng (thereafter called SKUAST) – 20KM away from Srinagar.
The following are noted wrt SKUAST
- The college has the facilities required in an ABC center and “students and interns” for a large scale ABC program!
- That that “the setting up of the pound and the sterilization facility would be a huge benefit to the college since the students and interns would gain precious knowledge and expertise through such a large scale venture. this would aso help train many more local vets to equip them to carry out humane ABC programs in other districts”
- The members were ‘unanimous’ that SKUAST was ideal for reasons mentioned and this recommendation would be conveyed to the Principal secretary and the VC of SKUAST through the Housing and Urban Development Department.
The information throws up some very disturbing questions:
- How is that AWBI was involved in a scheme that calls for pounds to be developed without the participation of any AWO – contrary to the ABC Dog Rules 2001
- Given the applicability of ABC Rules in Kashmir since Kashmir enjoys special status in the Indian Constitution was the MOU with SMC drafted with any relevant checks and balances and/ or with any cognizance of this ‘special’ situation at all?
- How was SKUAST taken as ideal – was there a statistical comparative analysis of costs etc on paper – since there is no mention of any such report)
- How is that the dogs have been left to be guinea pigs at the hands of the students and interns and used for further training? What if any are safeguards for these dogs against painful surgery trails, mutilation, experimentation and death?
More reflections and questions on the mess in Kashmir in the coming days.