Grand Mufti calls it ‘interference in religious affairs’
Anantnag: People in Kashmir are upset at what they call as an “arbitrary” ban imposed by the government on slaughter of “bovine animals and camels” on this year’s Eid-ul-Azha, which will be observed on July 21.
While those associated with the trade of these animals are calling it an “economic crackdown”, the religious clerics are looking at it through the prism of interference in religious affairs.
The general public is worried about the animals they have already bought. And everyone is questioning the timing of the “diktat”.
On Thursday, the Director, Planning, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries department, wrote to the Divisional Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police, informing them of the ban on slaughter of cows, calves, and camels.
The director referred to a communication from the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India.
The communication from New Delhi reads, “In this regard, large numbers of sacrificial animals are likely to be slaughtered in the UT of J&K during Bakra Eid festival scheduled from 21-23 July 2021 & the Animal Welfare Board of India, in view of animal welfare has requested for implementation of all precautionary measures to strictly implement the Animal Welfare Laws viz. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; Transport of Animal Welfare Rules, 1978; Transport of Animals (Amendment) Rules, 2001; Slaughter House Rules, 2001; Municipal Laws & Food Safety & Standards Authority of India directions for slaughtering of animals (under which camels cannot be slaughtered) during the festival.”
The ban has been imposed despite the Jammu and Kashmir High Court refusing to entertain a PIL seeking re-enactment of the “Cow Slaughter Ban Law” from the Ranbir Penal Code, which stands scrapped following the abrogation of Article-370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state.
The 124-year-old law from the RPC, under sections 298-A, 298-B, 298-C, and 298-D made the slaughter of cows and the sale of beef punishable offences in Jammu and Kashmir. A person could have been imprisoned for up to 10 years and also fined if found guilty under any of the sections.
The ban, imposed now, has put hundreds across Kashmir in trouble, particularly people who trade animals for a living. Kashmir Reader talked to several people who sell animals on Eid-ul-Azha and make a living.
“I have animals worth more than 10 lakh rupees stocked up for sale. I don’t know what to do with the animals now. If the ban is really imposed, I am a doomed man,” said an animal trader from Anantnag district, requesting not to be named.
He said that the ban could have been imposed a month earlier so that traders like him would have acted accordingly.
Another trader said he had more than 15 animals and has sold only three of them. “I don’t even know whether the people I have sold these animals to will take them or not. I am yet to receive the full payment,” he said.
The general public is equally dismayed, with hundreds having already purchased the sacrificial animals. “I bought an animal for sacrifice two days back. Had they announced the ban at least 15 days early, I might not have preferred a bovine animal,” a resident of Kulgam town told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, religious clerics say that the ban is interference in their religious affairs. “The government says they want to win hearts in Kashmir. Is this how you win hearts? By interfering in the religious affairs of people?” Kashmir’s Grand Mufti, Nasir-ul-Islam, said while talking to Kashmir Reader.
He added that even if the government wanted to ban the slaughter, they should have done it in a more acceptable manner, where some religious figures would have come forward and talked about this sensitive issue first.
“Besides, it is ill-timed. The order should have been issued much earlier if at all it was to be issued. People have bought animals already and now this diktat,” the Mufti said.
Kashmir, however, has a history of defying such orders. Despite being one of the few places where the slaughter of bovine animals was banned under the law, people have been sacrificing such animals on Eid and otherwise as well, some of them openly.