SCOURGE Dogs push Ranchi-ites inside

BJ Mirror Correspondent

Stray dogs now control the capital city of Jharkhand. Some 100 persons, mostly children, are bitten every day-night in Ranchi. According to government statistics, 1545 persons were attacked by stray dogs in 31 days of this May, taking the toll to 7558 in the last five months. The actual figure may be higher mainly because all cases are not reported to government hospitals. Cash-rich citizens prefer private nursing homes while the tradition-bound adivasis still consider even dog bites as god’s curse and cling to ojhas-gunis (sorcerers) for the cure.

The dog population has alarmingly increased all over Jharkhand. Many a time, the groups of dogs attack the strangers and school going children. The two-wheeler riders face agonising moments during night drives. No effective steps have been taken by the state government and the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) to curb the canine menace.
Stray Dogs
The RMC has assigned the task of castrating stray dogs to an NGO, Hoff and Animals. An MoU was signed in 2006. But the castration work is very slow. A dozen stray dogs are castrated every day against an estimated population of 50,000 pariah dogs in Ranchi alone. Tribals love to keep dogs that remain mostly on roads.

After a ban on killing dogs through a court verdict, the dog population has increased all over the country. But the animal rights organisations are mum against the human beings getting dog bites. “In a democracy, our government cares and protects street dogs more than the human beings”, caustically remarked Ranchi citizens.

Hindpiri and Azad Basti zone in the state capital has emerged as most dangerous stretch to tread. Mothers and guardians in new colonies dotting Ranchi are harried lots. They have to shoo away, literally day in day out, stray dogs and shield their children against aggressive dogs. The problem would aggravate once schools reopen after the summer vacation.

The scarcity of anti-rabies drug in government hospitals has made the situation worse. The Ranchi Sadar hospital has no stock of anti-rabies injection since April 14 last. The Jharkhand government is still fiddling with tenders to buy medicines. Earlier two tenders were rejected. The concerned officials are naturally treading the path with extreme caution as the state is still grappling (See; BJMirror.com Nov. 2009 issue) with Rs. 100- crore medicine scam.

Meantime, government hospitals are trying to cope up with situation with medicines bought from legislators’ fund. This facility is, however, not available to poor and innocent persons for they can not approach legislators or MPs for medicine. Concerned legislator’s written consent is necessary to avail this facility. A vial of anti-rabies medicine costs Rs. 231. A patient has to take five vials for the cure. This alarming situation, on the other hand, has created a big market for pharma companies to sell their high cost anti-rabies vaccines. In a market oriented economy, the corporate pharma companies producing rabies vaccine create their own market.

A Ranchi University teacher said: “In an incredible India, it seems that dogs get empowered. In a democracy, we lose our freedom of expression. But dogs can bark and of course, bite all and sundry”. Jharkhand, now under the President’s Rule, has been caught in such an unenviable situation mainly due to bureaucratic bungling.

In last February the Jharkhand High Court, in its judgment, had asked the district administration to “take effective steps to protect the lives of general public from the menace of dog biting…by enforcing the provisions of Section 349 of the Bihar Municipal Act, 1922”. But district administration passed on the buck to municipal bodies and things rest there. Common citizens are aghast and anguished at the administration’s laid-back approach in dealing with the menace.

Tailpiece: Maoists in West Bengal and Jharkhand have asked their cadres to kill stray dogs as they alert the security forces about their movement or presence by barking, day and night. On the other hand men in uniform in many far-flung police stations in Gaya, Aurangabad, Arwal and Jahanabad districts run community kitchen for stray dogs mainly because they provide a shield against Maoists and other extremists groups. The dogs come to the kitchens, eat their meal and go away. But, they return at nights and guard the police stations against any extremist attack. Most of thanas remain in pitched darkness due to almost regular power cuts at night. Street dogs remain the only saviour.

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