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Abandoned horses on prowl in Pulwama villages: 'Owners are unethical, inhuman'

By Basharat Rashid*
The farmers in Southern Kashmir have been facing inconveniences in presence of horses in their agricultural fields and orchards for last few months, thereby damaging their crop and other property. Sources said that a large number of horses face being abandoned in several areas of South Kashmir for months, as they have been neglected by their owners and are moving here and there in search of grazing.
As per eye witnesses, groups of horses can be seen in many areas of Pulwama district, and have been roaming for last few months, particularly in vegetable fields, mustard fields and orchards, due to which locals/farmers suffer.
Many areas in Pulwama like Tral, Aligund, Lalgam, Peernaar, Check, Arampora, Midoora and Awantipora witness the movement of these horses and are clueless about how to get rid of these horses. Locals said that their vegetables and fruit trees have been totally damaged by these stray horses who are roaming day & night with no concrete step from the authorities now.
They said that crops were also damaged by them due to which farmers are very much concerned as stray horses continue to make their presence in such fields particularly in the above mentioned areas.
"Stray horses are prevalent in the areas like Arampora, Aligund, Lalgam and Peernad and other areas. They have been damaging our vegetable fields and fruit trees for years. Authorities are not taking any action in curbing it", a local, Touseef Ahmad, said. He added, they have managed to capture 7-8 horses in their area. 
Experts in animal husbandry have however called the abandonment of horses by the owners unethical and inhumane. They even said that they have been awaring the people related to caring of their equines. "Since long, horses are being abandoned by the owners, particularly in winters. They generally take them back in summer to pastures and rest of the time left as such," they said.
Horses can be seen roaming particularly in vegetable fields, mustard fields and orchards, due to which locals and farmers suffer
An animal husbandry expert in Tral sub district, Dr Mudasir Ahmad, has expressed concern over the issue and said that "abandoning horses is unethical and inhumane". He said, "Whenever we get opportunity, we tell masses to take due care of their equines, but unfortunately these are a stray sort of animals without known owners", adding, “In fact, people have shifted to more mechanized methods which has reduced utility of horses.” 
He further said that all the stray horses must be bundled by municipality and should be taken to cattle ponds, where accordingly auction of the horses should take place. "All the horses must be bundled by the municipality and later they must go for their auction, may be people will not let them loose then," Mudasir believed.
Another expert, Dr Rafiq Ahmad Shah, who is posted at Kupwara as district sheep husbandry officer, has said that abandonment of animals is a punishable offence in light of prevention of cruelty to animals act. He said that "it is normally a prerogative of municipalities to take care as there is a special clause in Municipal act to deal with this menace."
Locals, particularly farmers, have demanded that authorities must intervene to solve this issue, so that they may heave a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, additional district magistrate, SA Raina, has said that he has already conveyed to the concerned block veterinary officer (BVO) and assured that necessary action will be taken. An order from ADC office Tral was also issued later, in which owners were asked to take their equines back as soon as possible.
---
*Journalist based in Kashmir

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