Separatists, Muslim clerics prepare for a showdown against beef ban in J&K
The ban on the sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir has not gone down well with the Muslim clergy and separatists in the State, who are reportedly gearing up for a protest.
Hearing a public interest litigation, the J&K High Court on 10 September directed the director general of police to enforce the ban on the sale of beef in the state.
Cow slaughter warrants 10-year imprisonment in J&K
Beef has been officially banned in Jammu and Kashmir since 1932, when the Dogra monarchy was ruling the state. Under section 298A Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), killing or slaughtering a cow or similar animal (including ox and buffalo) is a non-bailable offence which carries punishment of up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine. Under section 298B, possessing the meat of such animals is also a non-bailable offence, punishable with one year's imprisonment and a fine.
Protests across the State
However, the High Court decision has sparked a controversy. As a mark of protest, the radical women separatist group Dukhatran-e-Milat (DeM) is organising an event to sacrifice a bovine in full public view.
A video has also been circulated by the DeM on WhatsApp, in which a masked man is shown slaughtering a bovine with burqa clad woman standing by and chanting verses from the Holy Quran.
"We will not allow the ban to be enforced in Kashmir," said Syedah Aasiyeh Andrabi, DeM chief.
Masarat Alam of the Muslim League, while appealing for a sacrifice of cows instead of sheep and goats on Eid-ul-Azha, has called for a protest against the ban on the day of the festival as well.
The Hurriyat's Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for protests today and a Kashmir shutdown on 12 September as well.
The J&K High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA), Srinagar, has decided to challenge section 298A and section 298B of the RPC, which bans and condemns the voluntarily slaughtering of cows and similar animals as unconstitutional, in a protest in front of the J&K High Court in Srinagar.
"It was also felt that before passing the order, the court should have given an opportunity to everyone to express their views before the court, as the order has far-reaching consequences and will affect the religious sentiments and beliefs of the state's majority community," said Mohommad Ashraf Bhat, general secretary of JKHCBA, after the executive committee meeting.
Awami Ittihaad Party (AIP) Sheikh Abdul Rasheed aka Engineer Rasheed submitted a private member's bill in the assembly secretariat, seeking repealing of section 298 A and section 298 B RPC 1932, and called for lifting the ban on slaughtering bovines.
The BJP, however, welcomed the ban in the state. Ishfaq-Ur-Rehman Poswal, BJP leader and national executive member of scheduled tribe (ST) Morcha asked the state government to forcefully implement the court's decision so that slaughtering of domestic animals is stopped immediately.
"I am satisfied today that the honourable court considered the slaughtering of animals as an offence and imposed a ban on the same," he said.
"It is ironical that despite being a Muslim majority state, this ban was in place. The current court order is not new but only a reiteration and it is debatable," said Mehboob Beg, PDP chief spokesperson.