- Resistance camp calls for shutdown on Saturday, ulemas ask people to protest after Friday prayers; Bar to challenge ruling; Asiya slaughters cow in defiance
SRINAGAR: The high court ordered state authorities to enforce the Sections 298-A and 298-B of Ranbir Penal Code banning the “smuggling and slaughtering of bovine animals” which include cow, ox, bull and calf in Jammu and Kashmir.
A division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal ordered the authorities after hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Jammu lawyer, Parimoksh Seth, who had complained that despite the ban, shops selling beef were mushrooming across the state.
Parimoksh’s counsel Sunil Sethi, who is also a BJP spokesperson, told Kashmir Reader that the order had been actually issued on July 22 this year, but after the state government “did not take any measure to impose it”, so the court reissued the order on Wednesday.
“JK is the only state in India which has a penal code to enforce ban on the consumption of bovine animals. I on the behalf of Parimoksh Seth challenged that why it was not implemented if the law exits. The court had no option but to give order in our favor,” Sunil said.
According to Ranbir Penal Code, slaughter of bovine animals shall be punished with imprisonment or fine or both. During Dogra rule, 1846 to1947, the law was strictly implemented. As per historians, scores of Muslims were hanged for slaughtering bovine animals.
Post 1947, the ban was rarely implemented but an amendment to the act in 1984 brought it under the focus again. Assassinated pro-resistance cleric and leader Dr Qazi Nissar, who slaughtered a cow in the main street of Anantnang, was imprisoned during then governor Jag Mohan’s rule.
The fresh court order has created a furore in the Muslim-majority state, which has possibly the highest consumption of meat, mostly mutton, in India.
Many see the fresh court orders in the light of growing saffronisation of India. Cow slaughter, along with Babri Masjid construction and Uniform Civil Code, have been the rallying points of rightwing Hindu organizations, including the BJP, which is ruling the state in partnership with PDP.
Prominent resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have called for a shutdown on Saturday against the order, while ulemas from various sects have asked people to protest after Friday prayers tomorrow.
Malik has been put under house arrest, while Hurriyat Conference (G) leaders MA Sehrai, Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Ayaz Akbar and many other functionaries of the group have been detained by the police.
The Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association, the largest organisation of Valley lawyers, has said that it will challenge the court order.
The executive members, the spokesman said, were unanimous in saying that the order passed by the Jammu Wing of the high court “violates the fundamental freedoms of the people more particularly the Muslims of the state and amounts to interference in their religious matters.”
The lawyers body also observed that the court should have given an opportunity to all sections of the people to express their view point “as the order had far reaching consequences and was going to effect the religious sentiments and beliefs of majority community of the state.”
“In terms of the Personal Law, the Muslims of the World including those living in the State of J&K are ordained to eat the ‘Halal’ meat of bovine animals including the cows, ox, bull, calf and buffalo and no curbs can be placed on their such right by any court.”
It was also stated that normally the courts should avoid to interfere in the personal matters of any community.
“However, where it is compelled to interfere in any such matter than without providing an opportunity of being heard to the members of such community, it should not pass any order affecting their fundamental rights.”
The lawyers’ body observed that while passing the order, the court has not been properly assisted and it therefore decided to intervene in the matter and assist the court in coming to a just decision of the case.
The Bar said in state like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Kerala, Tripura etc. there is no ban on the slaughtering of cows.
“It is only in the state of J&K that a law, enacted by an autocrat centuries ago, is still on the statute book, which should have been long back repealed, on the ground of it being violative of the fundamental rights of the people and as it has not been so done, as such, the Bar Association has decided to file appropriate proceedings before the court for its setting aside.”
In an act of defiance, woman resistance leader Asiya Andrabi, organised and oversaw the slaughter of a cow at her residence in Buchpora, while hundreds of Facebook users posted pictures of barbeque and messages inviting friends for beef parties.