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Kashmir: Beliefs and environmental disasters

Hindustan Times reports that a retreating frightened leopard was shot dead by Indian army in Kashmir and as claimed the animal had injured army´s six other colleagues. The professional photographer´s camera catches the drama showing the hapless leopard running away in vain to avoid the inevitable.

Kashmir´s Wild Life Department in a desperate bid offers one to two hundred thousand Rupees to help capture national animal Hangul (Stag family specie), critically endangered found in Kashmir only, for breeding centres to save the animal from total extinction. Heavy concentration of armed forces on a high altitude snow-clad mountainous range, icy glaciers and springs provide an opportunity for games, hunting and flesh to satiate the hunger full of proteins at the cost of the habitat like snow leopard, leopard, black, red bear, Markhor (wild goat) and other animals. The technologies available to protect such animals through breeding programs do not apply to Kashmir as paucity of funds and continuous use of gunfire makes the process difficult and at times impossible.

The proven factuality tells us that wildlife maintains ecological balance and shapes forest ecosystems. All living organisms in their natural habitat form a vitally important and inseparable part of human existence maintaining the natural cycles. Deforestation and felling of trees for trade, endangered species targeted through poaching, games, economic benefits, religious compulsions and in many cases forests and far-flung high altitude areas occupied by armies due to political reasons play havoc with the heritage and harmless species living around.

Wild life conservation attempts, a top priority using best available technology, embark on preserving and improving on the methods to safeguard the habitats as pragmatic approach like re-wilding is increasingly used to get positive results. World over resources on huge levels are expended for reforestation, pest control, irrigation, coppicing and hedge laying. Unfortunately there are areas where politics and petty economic considerations play a role and contribute heavily in depriving the world of ecology, climatology and geography to fulfil some political expansionist ambitions. On the contrary, in the United Kingdom for instance, millions of Pounds are spent for the management of wildlife and charities such as RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and various other Wildlife Trusts committed to preserve forestry and natural habitat.

In recent years, Kashmir witnessed wild animals like bear, leopard or even wolf move down to the residential areas putting life of inhabitants and even of animals at risk. A retired official of Kashmir´s wild life department wishing not to be named told onislam.net that "These wild animals were becoming a regular scene in summer and autumn, during which bears come down towards the crop fields while the leopards are seen round the year. Most of these animals are killed after they are caught thereby facing decline". The question debated is that why do these animals come down to villages and cities? The simple concluded answer to the question is that unwanted and uninvited heavily armed humans have forcibly occupied their domains to drive them out.

Kainaat Mushtaq from Kashmir reports that Mahseer (Mahsheer) the traditional migratory fish, scientifically known as Tortor, became extinct as "construction of a Dam in Kashmir held by Pakistan blocked the natural flow of these omnivorous red-finned fish". Its huge size reaches up to 2.75 meters weighing up to 54 KG, she added. The pride of Kashmir Mahsheer and world famous Trout have become a victim to uncertain political situation created by occupational forces creating an environment of spiralling violence. Kainaat, perhaps unaware of the topographical and geographical boundaries of divided Kashmir missed the fact that the water flow of river Jhelum has its source in Kashmir held by India and not the vice-versa. So Mahsheer of the size and weight, as mentioned, would not travel upwards and backwards against the current of the river.

A lot has been said about politically motivated soaring numbers of Yatris (religious travellers) visit to Amarnath cave when a whooping half a million devotees go in and out of the cave in one month termed as a miracle that "the lingam lasted that long". The visited glacier situated in round the year snow clad mountains of Kashmir is nearly 13000 ft above the sea level and the below zero temperatures are instrumental in maintaining the natural shapes and sizes of the glaciers. The surging numbers of devotees is a recent phenomenon understood by Kashmiris as another attempt to intimidate and harass the local population, a sinister design dangerously poised to create environmental hazards with the basic intent to change the demography.

The lack of waste disposal system, along the routes and breath-taking glacier natural sites, not in sight makes it a dumping ground for littered plastic bottles, wrappers, non-biodegradable pollutants and widespread human excreta of half a million humans turning the paradise into some kind of visible hell. In this context the local Kashmir administration reported that "Instead of acting on the recommendations to reduce the number of ´devotees´ to the cave to save the environment the Hindu religious board displaying stubbornness responded with increasing the number of visitors from India, not only endangering the ecology but also the cave itself".

Swami Agnivesh, social activist and a civil society member revered and respected all over India advised Hindus not to visit Amarnath cave in huge numbers at the behest of Hindu extremist organisations. He stressed the point that Hindu zealots push hundreds of thousands of hysterical Hindu devotees into Kashmir to give an impression that Kashmir is an integral part, terming it as religious terrorism.


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