Srinagar, July 11: A Kashmir legislator and his supporters tried to drive two vehicles carrying stray dogs into the civil secretariat today but were stopped by police who took the politician into custody after freeing the canines.
Independent legislator Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, who is also known as Engineer Rasheed, was on a “mission”.
Rasheed wants to rid Langate, a constituency he represents in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, of stray dogs and one way of doing it, he said, is to make ministers and babus realise how big a “menace” they have become for commoners.
“Although it was a symbolic protest, I wanted to make ministers and VIPs realise how common people suffer every day at the hands of dogs,” Rasheed told The Telegraph.
Rasheed said he had been forced to take such a step after seeing the plight of many victims of dog bites. “In one day alone, 41 people were bitten by dogs in my constituency recently. There is no day when you don’t come across such incidents in Langate or other places. You have thousands of security force personnel chasing militants but nobody comes forward to save humans from these dogs,” he said.
The legislator, who won the 2008 election from Langate in Kupwara, said hundreds of volunteers caught around 150 dogs in his constituency last night.
“But the vehicles carrying them to Srinagar were stopped at various places and the dogs freed,” he said.
Outside the civil secretariat, Rasheed and his men raised slogans against the alleged inaction of the government before they were taken into custody. The police later released all of them.
The stray dog menace is a Valley-wide problem, not restricted to Langate.
Officials at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital said 7,235 victims of dog bites approached them for treatment last year and three persons died.
A recent survey by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation put the number of stray dogs at around one lakh in Srinagar city, which has a human population of 14 lakh.