Kashmir Valley simmers over court enforced blanket ban on beef sale

Srinagar: Just two days after Kashmir shutdown to protest callous approach of the state government towards rehabilitating flood victims, the valley is on the boil again. This time it is the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s decision on Wednesday to enforce a statewide ban on the sale of beef.

 Kashmir Valley simmers over court enforced blanket ban on beef sale

Representational image. Reuters

In 2014, Parimoksh Seth, an advocate in Jammu, had filed a Public Interest
Litigation (PIL) against cow slaughter in the state. It had said the
slaughtering or killing of bovine animals was an offence punishable under
Section 298-A and possession of such slaughtered animal an act punishable
under Section 298-B of the RPC.

The courts decision has put the majority Muslim population, separatist leaders, religious organisations and even mainstream political parties at
loggerheads with the PDP-BJP coalition government. The state wide ban is
seen as an infringement into "religious matters". The situation, it seems,
is brimming to go out of control.

Seth, now deputy advocate general of the state government in Jammu High
Court, says slaughtering of cows in the state was not only against the law
but it severally affected religious sentiments of a section of the
society. But he also said he was removing his name from the plea as he holds a public office now.

When the state government failed to file an appropriate response regarding
the smuggling and slaughtering of bovine animals, a division comprising of
justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and justice Janak Raj Kotwal directed DGP Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that appropriate directions were given to all SSPs, SPs and SHOs of all districts and police stations in Jammu and Kashmir that there shall be no sale of beef across the state.

The court's decision came just two weeks ahead of the Muslim festival of
Eid. Interestingly, while the people in Jammu are celebrating the verdict, in Kashmir people have taken to the streets.

On Friday, six people were injured in clashes with security forces in South
Kashmir’s Pulwama district. They were protesting against the court order.
In Srinagar, sources said more than two dozen cows were slaughtered as
a sign of defiance against the court order.

Kashmir remained shut on Saturday following a strike call given by Hurriyat leaders both moderate and hawks, and almost every other section of
the society. Even some sections of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party supported the strike.

Peoples Democratic Party youth president and political analyst in Chief
Minister’s Office, Waheed-Ur-Rehman Para said people should be the best
judges to decide what to eat and what not to.

"Let people decide what they want to eat and what they dislike. We don’t
need law enforcing agencies to tell us what we should eat in our dinner,"
Para said.

The decision has not only irritated religious organisations and majority of
the Muslim population but even provided separatists with more reasons to train guns against the coalition government.

Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) chairperson, Shabir Ahmad Shah, said the
court judgment banning the sale of beef is unacceptable.

"This order is unacceptable and aimed at hurting the sentiments of Muslims.
We strongly condemn such interference in religious affairs by judiciary,"
Shah said.

The state government has so far maintained its silence on the issue.

Valley-based political party Jamat-e-Islami on Thursday threatened to launch an agitation against the ban. "Even if such bill is passed
by the state assembly and ratified by Indian Parliament no law can come
between us and the Sharia law," said GM Bhat, the party's newly elected chief.

Separatists on the other hand launched a scathing attack on the government
alleging direct interference in the 'religious affairs' and 'programme to
create communal tensions'.

In the 80s, a Hindu groups had demanded ban on the sale of beef after which the then governor Jagmohan tried implementing the ban, which however backfired. It brought, Qazi Nisar, a little known clerk in south Kashmir to the centre stage of politics in Kashmir, after he slaughtered a cow in the main Chowk in Anantnag. Later he become one of the founders of the Muslim United Front (MUF), an amalgamation of religious parties which took on the Congress-National Conference coalition in the 1987 elections that was rigged. Hizbul Mujahideen chief Mohammad Yousuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin too was a member of MUF and had fought election too.

Constitutional expert, Zaffar Ahmad Shah, says the government can revoke
the ban by scraping of Article 298 of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). Revoking
Article 298 of RPC will render the ban null and void.

It is highly unlikely the court orders will have an impact on the beef sale
in Kashmir valley but it unintentionally would further the divide between
Hindu Jammu and Muslim Kashmir.

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Updated Date: Sep 12, 2015 19:50:38 IST