India bans sacrificial animal slaughter on Muslim festival in Kashmir

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Local administration invokes animal welfare laws, banning slaughter, transport of sacrificial animals.

Slaughter of cows, calves and camels on Muslim festival Eid al-Adha has been banned in the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir.

An order issued by the Animal Husbandry Department and addressed to the police chief for 97% Muslim Kashmir valley, and its divisional commissioner, has asked officials to stop “illegal killing/sacrifice” of cows, calves, camels and other animals besides taking legal action against those transporting these animals and “violating rules on Eid”.

The order said that a large number of sacrificial animals are likely to be slaughtered on the festival of sacrifice.

“In view of animal welfare, the Animal Husbandry Ministry of the government of India has requested for implementation of precautionary measures to strictly implement the animal welfare laws such as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Transport of Animals Welfare Rules…,” the order reads.

An overwhelming majority of Kashmir Muslims slaughter and eat sheep or goat on Eid. Although the slaughter of cows, calves and bulls stands officially banned, hundreds of meat shops sell beef and buffalo meat.

The practice of sacrificing bovine animals was, until a few decades ago, prevalent in rural areas but catching up in the capital Srinagar too. Only a small number of camels are sacrificed and their slaughter on Eid is a relatively new practice.

The fresh order is apparently aimed at placating the sentiments of the Hindus in the region, who are a minority as a whole (28-30%), but a majority in Jammu region, the voter base of India’s ruling Hindu supremacist government.

On June 23, a 24-year-old Muslim man, Aijaz Ahmad Dar, was lynched by a group of four Hindu men when he was returning home with a buffalo in Rajouri, a Muslim-majority district in Jammu. Local protesters called the accused as “cow vigilantes”, a term used across India for Hindu men who hunt down, and occasionally lynch, those carrying cattle.

The Indian government is currently directly ruling Jammu and Kashmir through a local government whose nearly all top positions are held by non-Muslim administrators and bureaucrats.

Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.

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