The slaughter of cows, calves and camels during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha has been banned in predominantly Muslim Jammu and Kashmir.
An order issued by the Department of Livestock and addressed to the Chief of Police of the 97% Muslim Kashmir Valley, and his Divisional Commissioner, called on authorities to stop the “illegal slaughter / sacrifice” of cows, calves, camels and other animals in addition to initiating legal proceedings. against those who transport these animals and “violate the rules of Eid”.
The order said a large number of sacrificial animals are likely to be slaughtered on the feast of sacrifice.
“With a view to animal welfare, the Indian government’s livestock department has called for the implementation of precautionary measures to strictly enforce animal welfare laws such as prevention of animal cruelty , the transport of animal welfare rules … “, the order reads.
An overwhelming majority of Muslims in Kashmir slaughter and eat sheep or goats on Eid. Although the slaughter of cows, calves and bulls is officially banned, hundreds of butcher shops sell beef and buffalo meat.
The practice of sacrificing cattle was, until a few decades ago, widespread in rural areas, but was also catching up in the capital Srinagar. Only a small number of camels are sacrificed and their slaughter on Eid day is a relatively new practice.
The new order is apparently aimed at appeasing the feelings of Hindus in the region, who are a minority as a whole (28-30%) but a majority in the Jammu region, the electoral base of India’s ruling Hindu supremacist government.
On June 23, a 24-year-old Muslim, Aijaz Ahmad Dar, was lynched by a group of four Hindu men as he returned home with a buffalo in Rajouri, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in Jammu. Local protesters called the defendants “cow vigils,” a term used across India to refer to Hindu men who stalk, and sometimes lynch, those who transport cattle.
The Indian government currently runs Jammu and Kashmir directly through a local government in which almost all leadership positions are held by non-Muslim administrators and bureaucrats.
Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim Himalayan region, is owned in part by India and Pakistan and claimed by both in full. A small shard of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since their partition in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – including two in Kashmir.
Additionally, in the Siachen Glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A ceasefire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir are fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict since 1989.