The Jammu and Kashmir Police has detained hundreds of people in the past one year on the 'apprehension' that they may have carried out cow slaughter. This has prompted the BJP to seek a ban on the 'rampant killing' of the animal in Muslim-majority areas of the state.
The police have registered criminal cases against hundreds of people in the Hindu-majority areas of Jammu for transporting bovine animals to Muslim-majority areas of Kashmir without the permission of authorities. The cases have been filed for violating the orders of District Magistrates (DMs), according to which prior permission of the tehsildar is required even for Muslim nomadic Gujjars to take flocks of animals for the purposes of grazing to Kashmir.
These orders specify that the permission is required so that the sentiments of Hindus who “see the cow as a sacred animal” are not violated.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the police have carried out several raids in the Udhampur area, which falls on the way to Kashmir, and in Rajouri district, from where cattle are taken to the Valley. The police have detained many people for transporting animals without prior permission.
Over 230 cases have been registered in the last one year for violation of the orders of the DM, Rajouri for failing to procure the authorisation from the executive magistrate, said Superintendent of Police, Rajouri, Yugal Kumar. The official said that the requirement for permissions has been put in place, 'while keeping in view that religious sentiments of people should not be hurt.'
In October last year, two people were detained in Rajouri under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which is usually filed against foreign militants and youth who frequently indulge in stone-pelting. The Udampur district collector, in an order passed in 2015, noted that when the nomadic Gujjars move to Kashmir, some 'people smuggle cattle for slaughter.' It has further noted that the slaughter of bovine animals may result into law and order issues and endanger public peace.
Similar such orders have been issued by other district collectors under Section 144 of the CrPC.
Kumar said that the authorisation is readily given and not denied 'even if a person has a previous criminal record.' He said that the police clearance is required to ensure proper monitoring, as it specifies the date and the route on which the person will travel to Kashmir, so that cops on the way can check for any violations.
Such orders have also been issued in Kathua, where Muslim Gujjars had earlier alleged that they were targeted by Hindus, forcing their early migration after an incident of a rape of a minor nomad girl drew widespread outrage. The Deputy Commissioner of Kathua, Rohit Khajuria, said that the order requiring permission to be sought was issued 'since cow is a protected animal in the state.'
However, former advocate general and legal expert Mohammad Aslam Goni said that there is no requirement for permission to transport cows, or any other cattle, in the state. He said that while cow slaughter is a punishable crime in the state, and even the possession of cow meat leads to a prison term and a fine, the 'mere transportation' is no crime and it shouldn’t be assumed that a person would engage in cattle slaughter.
“If Gujjars are transporting cows, how can one infer from this that they are smuggling them?,” he asked.
In Jammu, incidents of mob violence have increased, and there have been several incidents of right-wing groups intercepting cattle herders and attacking them. A number of incidents have been reported in the last three years, after the BJP came to power in the state.
In the Kishtwar area, which has a mixed population of Muslims and Hindus, protests were witnessed earlier this week as family members of a Muslim man accused of cow smuggling said that he died in police custody. However, the police said that he had died after running away from a medical facility where he was taken for examination. He was booked under Section 188 of the RPC for transporting bovine animals without prior permission, said Abrar Ahmad, Senior Superintendent of Police, Kishtwar. “The cow smuggler was taken for medical examination before his remand. After that, due to the crowd at the medical facility, he slipped into a maize field and fell down into a nullah, due to which he died. There are many people who witnessed the incident ,” he said.
Inspector General of Police, Jammu range, SD Singh Jamwal, said that a magisterial probe has already been ordered and the inquiry is going on into the death. “He had been booked for cow smuggling earlier as well," he said.
BJP chief spokesman Sunil Sethi said that the ban on cow slaughter should be strictly followed. “In our state, beef consumption and killing of cows is an offence. There is a provision for 10 years' imprisonment for killing a cow. The matter went to court and as of now, the legal position is that it continues to be an offence,” he said.
Sethi added, “If there is a conflict between criminal law and civil law, the supremacy is always of criminal law. The cow slaughter has been an offence since the time of maharajas and none of the political parties from Kashmir have sought an amendment in the law.”
Updated Date: Jul 27, 2018 20:31 PM