Of stray dogs, Govt inaction and fear on Zaina Kadal banks
DAY-2: OMAR’S BODY STILL UNTRACED
Srinagar, Mar 15: Zaina Kadal Jhelum banks witness an unusual scene for the second running day Tuesday. Scores of people stand silently with eyes fixed on the motorboats of the River Police as cops keep pressing long wooden rods into the muddy waters looking for the 10-year-old who slipped into the river when chased by stray dogs.
24 hours on, almost everyone has given up hope that Omar Farooq Sheikh, could be alive. His mother Naseema Akhter happens to be one of them.
“You can’t be alive in the waters for so long my son. But can’t I even see you now? Where are you my son, where are you?,” the mother wails on the river banks.
The last time she saw Omar was on Monday afternoon when the class 3rd student returned to his Dalal Mohalla home from school and dropped his school bag from the back.
Naseema had asked him to take lunch. But before that he wished to relish biscuits.
“Omar asked for Rs 5 for a biscuit packet, which he wanted to share with his friend... But I gave him Rs 10 instead so that both could feast some more bites,” recaps the mother.
And this reminds her of his last words: “I will also eat lunch you just keep an egg ready by the time I get the biscuits.”
On way some rabid dogs chased him and he tried his escape on the nearby river banks but according to witnesses he slipped.
Since then the hapless family and scores of other locals have been sitting on the banks as the police makes futile efforts to trace the boy.
In the meantime, the mother shouts “Omar! Omar!” and instantly faints.
Her husband, Farooq Ahmed a rag-picker and others carry her to their shanty hutment, a single dingy room, their house.
At the time of the incident, Farooq was out to earn two square meals for the family which comprises of three sons and a daughter.
Omar was their second son after teenage Rozy. The sister is all fire against a local newspaper which as per her had published that the her beloved sibling had committed suicide. This has made the family hesitant to talk to media.
“We have lost our son, we don’t want to be victimized again,” says Farooq.
On the river banks SP North Shoket Shah and other officials monitor the operations to fish out Omar’s body.
“Experts have told us that he could be lying on the river bed because while dying one makes a last effort to catch hold of something. For him it could be mud,” Shah says while asking his team to keep the people away from coming too close to the river banks.
“We don’t want the tragedy to recur,” the SP pleads before the people.
In the meantime, some dog barks are heard. This time the stray pack chases a little girl only to be rescued by some passer-by.
“What is preventing you from killing the dogs?” some people ask the police official.
“We aren’t authorized for the job,” the cop replies.
Even though some days back the civil administration proposed to equip the armed forces with power to eliminate rabid dogs, the authorities backtracked from the stand following severe criticism from animal rights activist who spoke their heart to shield the dogs whose population has assumed alarming proportions in the City.
Even though there are over one lakh and growing canines in the City, the National Conference led coalition government unlike its predecessors has been reluctant to eliminate the pesky packs which recently killed at-least three people while some 9000 were wounded past year.
Dogs remained a hot topic on the Zaina Kadal banks as people demanded immediate killing of the canines.
“We can’t bear it any further, please save us from dogs,” a woman hand folded pleaded before this scribe. But ironically there was none from the civil administration available to listen to their woes. The aggrieved locals said no “Babu” visited the spot since yesterday.
Back home Naseema regains consciousness and instantly starts looking for the last wish of her son— the egg he had wished for lunch.
The mother can’t find it in the small dingy room over crowded with mourners.
On the river banks its evening now. The dogs are barking as usual while the police is unable to find the little boy who was chased by the stray packs till he slipped into the deadly waters from where he didn’t return.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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