India has announced that the slaughter of animals in Kashmir will be banned for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The Indian government has ordered authorities in Kashmir to ban the slaughter of all animals in the Muslim-majority region for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The Hindu nationalist government’s order, issued on Thursday evening, risks heightening tensions in Indian Kashmir where concern has grown since New Delhi revoked its special self-governing status in August 2019.
The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, and the government in New Delhi has placed the territory it controls under direct control.
Citing animal welfare laws, the Animal Welfare Board of India has ordered the police and authorities to “take all preventive measures” to end “unlawful killing of animals and to take measures strict against offenders”.
Cows are considered sacred by many Hindus and their slaughter is prohibited in the region and in many Indian states. The new ordinance extends the ban to all animals for the first time.
Muslims traditionally kill a goat, sheep or cow for Eid al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema, a coalition of Muslim religious bodies in Kashmir, expressed a “strong resentment” in the face of the government’s decision.
Eid holiday should be marked from July 21 to July 23.
The group said in a statement that animal sacrifice to honor the Prophet Ibrahim “is an important tenet of religion on this day.”
The MMU urged the government to revoke the “arbitrary” order which is “unacceptable to Muslims in the state as it directly undermines their religious freedom and personal right”.
The government order also sparked some outrage on social media.
A shopkeeper in the main town of Srinagar, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the order was a further sign of “anti-Muslim policies imposed on Kashmir”.
Residents say they fear reprisals for expressing political views since the area’s special status was revoked in 2019.