Slaughter of cow, calf, and camel during the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha has been banned in the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir.
The union Ministery of State of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has issued an order addressed to the police chief for Kashmir valley, and its divisional commissioner, asking for a stop to the “illegal killing/sacrifice” of cows, calves, camels, and other animals. The order includes taking legal action against those transporting these animals and “violating rules on Eid”.
The ministry is headed by Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) MP Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan elected from the Lok Sabha constituency of Muzaffarnagar in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), which is scheduled to go to the polls in 2022 for electing a new state legislature. Cow slaughter is an emotional issue in UP, which is currently governed by the BJP and is faced with unpopularity due to mismanagement in the administration and gross mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In view of animal welfare, the Animal Husbandry Ministry of the government of India has requested for (the) 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 goats on Eid. Although the slaughter of cows, calves, and bulls stands officially banned in India, hundreds of meat shops sell beef and buffalo meat in Kashmir.
The bovine animal sacrifice was less prevalent in Kashmir but has grown in the past decades. Camel sacrifice during Eid is a relatively new practice.
In addition to the upcoming Uttar Pradesh election, the order is viewed as a gimmick for placating the sentiments of the Hindus representing about 30% population of Kashmir. BJP ruled states of Goa, Assam, and Tripura have not implemented such a ban in view of vote bank politics.
The Indian government is currently administering Kashmir through a local government whose nearly all top positions are held by non-Muslim administrators and bureaucrats.