In Kashmir, Dogs enjoy what AFSPA denies Humans – Right To Life

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By: Mushtaq Ahmad
Srinagar, Nov 24: Two separate laws in vogue in Kashmir, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Municipal Corporation Act 2000 regarding Regulation of Animal Birth (Dogs), throw up a disturbing fact about rights of humans and dogs in the conflict zone.
Ironically, in conflict-ridden Kashmir the right of a dog to life is safeguarded legally more than a human being.
For example, according to the AFSPA, any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in the armed forces to maintain public order can fire upon and use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law, including prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons.
On the contrary, the Municipal Act regarding Regulation of Animal Birth prohibits any of the Corporations employee or officer from killing a dog, even if it is wreaking havoc against civilian population, unless a high-power committee sanctions its death after a thorough probe. The committee of the Municipal Corporation to decide upon the fate of an ‘outlaw’ dog in Kashmir comprises its Commissioner, Health Officer, a representative of the Animal Welfare Department, Municipal Veterinary Doctor, a representative of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and representatives from the J&K Public Health Department.
It is this high powered committee that can decide on catching, transportation, sheltering, sterilization and vaccination of dogs.
The AFSPA empowers security personnel to arrest without warrant any person who has committed a cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed or is about to commit a cognizable offence and may use such force as may be necessary to effect the arrest.
The Municipal laws, on the other hand, ensure that no dog, even rabid and dangerous one’s, cannot be arrested by violating their rights. “The dogs shall be captured by using humane methods such as lassoing or soft-loop animal catchers such as those prescribed under the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty (Capture of Animals) Rules, 1979,” say the Municipal laws.
Besides, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and the animal welfare organization are directed to make public announcements on a public address system that dogs are being captured from the area for the purpose of sterilization and immunization and will be released in the same area after sterilization and immunization.
“The announcement may also briefly educate the residents of the area about the dog control programme and solicit the support of all the residents,” says the Act.
With little respect for residents, the AFSPA, on the other hand, empowers security personnel to enter and search, without warrant, any premises. “Stop, search and seize any vehicle or vessel on suspicion,” says the AFSPA.
The AFSPA also empowers forces to search, break open locks, etc, if the key thereof is withheld. The AFSPA provides protection to forces acting in good faith. “Under this Act, no prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted,” AFSPA provisions say.
The Municipal laws for dogs ensure even care in case of sick dogs. “Incurably ill and mortally wounded dogs as diagnosed by a qualified veterinarian appointed by the committee shall be euthanized during specified hours in a humane manner by administering sodium pentathol for adult dogs and Thiopental Introperitoneal for puppies by a qualified veterinarian. No dog shall be euthanized in the presence of another dog,” says the law.
The burial and last rites of dogs are mandatory to be ensured and monitored by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. “The carcasses of euthanized dogs shall be disposed of in an incinerator or deep burial to be provided by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation,” says the Act.

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