Fear from a sudden increase in the population of stray dogs has gripped many localities in Shopian district with residents suspecting the canines were being brought into their neighbourhoods from other areas clandestinely.
On Saturday morning, Mohammad Iqbal Naikoo and hisseven-year old son were waiting for a school bus in Memmnder locality ofShopian district when a pack of ferocious stray dogs suddenly appeared in frontof them.
"They started yapping furiously and tried to attack us.But fortunately the school bus soon showed up and we both got in," said Iqbal.
Besides Meemender, many residents from Bongam, Gagran,Kanipora and Khudpora localities complained that over the past few weeks therewas a sudden increase in the number of stray dogs in their areas.
"Stray dogs dot our whole locality. I don't understandhow they have surfaced here suddenly," said Javed Ahmad, a resident ofBongam.
Ahmad said that it had become rather difficult for the womenand children to venture out of their homes in the area.
"We have to escort our children to schools located evenjust a short walk away from our home," Ahmad said, adding a neighbor ofwas recently bitten by a stray right outside her home.
A health official told Greater Kashmir that there was asignificant increase in the number of dog bite cases in Shopian district overpast few months.
He, however, did not divulge the exact number of cases.
Nakhasi Abid, a university student from Kanipora villagesaid that residents had to remain way careful while going to mosques for themorning and evening prayers due to fear of stray dogs.
Some residents say that truckloads of stray dogs were beingferried from different places and released in the area "with the tacitpermission of authorities".
"It has always been a problem with this district. Notonly stray dogs but the mountains of trash and muck are also being dumped hereand municipal authorities hardly give it a thought," said a localbusinessman.
While the concerned Executive Officer did not respond tocalls by this reporter, chairman Municipal Committee Shopian Subash ChandraKoul told Greater Kashmir that he would address the issue soon.