Kill Bill -A beefy affair

Farzana Mumtaz

The High Court’s direction to enforce the 83-year-old cow-slaughter ban has proven that the rightwing parties across India are at work and if mainstream regional parties are not able to amend the law in the forthcoming autumn session, the autumn of 2015 may witness the heat of the summer of 2010. Farzana Mumtaz reports


Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian bicameral parliament, and former chief minister of Jammu Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad has said his party would bring a bill in the Legislative Assembly regarding the issue of beef ban.

Opposition National Conference (NC) has moved a bill in the Legislative Assembly to for the forthcoming autumn session seeking to decriminalize slaughter of cows and sale and consumption of beef in the State.

MLA Langate and Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) chief, Engineer Abdul Rashid Sheikh has moved a Private Members Bill  to delete Section 298 A and B. He is also starting a signature campaign in all the districts of Kashmir to build social pressure against the ban on beef.

However, it remains to be seen whether the bill would be passed or not, whether the bill would be killed.

The HC’s decision calling for enforcing the 83-year-old cow-slaughter ban has proven that the rightwing parties across India including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and Bharataiy Janta Party (BJP) are at work against the minorities in the country and are interfering not only in their religious duties but also their food habits.

Meanwhile, the mainstream regional parties in Kashmir, which have taken a stand against the beef ban and stated that judiciary should not cross the red line, are trying to cool the tempers of the people of Kashmir by promising them that they would bring a bill against it and amend the law.

However, if they would not be able to amend the law in the forthcoming autumn session, the autumn of 2015 may witness the heat of the summer of 2010 when Kashmir witnessed a mass uprising.

The HC decision also forced people to go for a complete shutdown across Kashmir and prompted calls for mass cow slaughter on Eid-ul-Adha, the religious festival of Muslims.

In fact, the slaughter of cows has already started witnessing a surge with Hurriyat leaders including Asiya Andrabi and Shabir Ahmad Shah as well as pro-India politicians including Engineer Abdul Rashid Sheikh’s AIP conducting public slaughters of the bovine.

The verdict of the High Court calling for implementing the ban on the sale of beef seems to have taken the State back to the Mirwaiz Qazi Nisar incident of 1985.

Mirwaiz Qazi Nisar had defied Governor Jagmohan Malhotra’s imposition of ban on the slaughter of livestock on Janmashtmi, which paved a way for the creation of Ummat-e-Islamia that in turn cleared the decks for the formation of Muslim United Front (MUF).

And MUF’s participation in the 1987 ‘rigged’ polls culminated in the outbreak of militancy.

David Devadas, the author of ‘In Search of a Future: The Story of Kashmir’ said the ban on the slaughter of livestock on Janmashtami had set the stage for the creation of MUF, then their participation in 1987 polls and finally the outbreak of militancy.

Devdas posted on his Facebook page, “Jagmohan’s Janmashthami slaughter ban had helped set the stage for MUF. Ranbir Singh reinvented Hindu religiosity in the 1870s: Trikuta Devi became Vaishno Devi, Sanatan ways replaced the cult of Narasimha, and the pure veg' Khir Bhawani displaced Sharika Devi and Zaishta Devi. SK Sinha banned meat offerings to Zaishta Devi. Each of the three earnest gentlemen damagedintegration’ and harmony (sic).”

In another post, he wrote, “I wonder how opposition parties have received the court’s directions. Do any of them have a beef with it? or is any of them beefing up its support base? Do they see it as a meaty electoral issue? Will it help them out-flank the PDP – chop it to size, flay it perhaps, even make mincemeat of it? Have any of them ribbed the government on this (sic)?”

The High Court’s decision calling for implementing the ban on the sale of beef in Kashmir where people are voracious meat eaters seems to be something on which much thought was not given considering the razor-edge that Kashmir remains on.

The decision evoked strong protests particularly in the summer capital, Srinagar, where there is even aversion to consumption of beef and people usually take mutton.

The court direction came in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Jammu resident, now the Deputy Advocate General of the State.

The slaughter of cows and other bovine animals was banned by the erstwhile Dogra rulers, a practice continued after 1947.

Qazi Yasir, the son of Mirwaiz Qazi Nisar and the incumbent Mirwaiz of south Kashmir, said, “Nobody should decide what I am going to have as my food unless I do not force others to have the same.”

Yasir was arrested with the government fearing he could trigger a similar kind of situation in south Kashmir that his father did three decades ago.

“India has perhaps forgotten that in 1985, our Chairman, Dr. Qazi Nisar defied their barbarism,” he said.

The HC’s diktat to strictly impose ban on the sale of beef has brought separatist leaders and religious leaders in Kashmir together who have termed it as an attempt of interference in religion by the rightwing Hindutva forces.

Justice Markandey Kathju, the former Chairman of the Press Council of India, who also served as a judge at the Supreme Court of India, had in the past reacted to a proposed ban on cow slaughter by posting on Facebook, “I am a Hindu, and I have eaten beef, and will again eat it. There is nothing wrong in beef eating. 90% of the world eats beef. Are they all sinners? And I refuse to believe that cow is sacred or our mother. How can an animal be a mother of a human being? That is why I say 90% Indians are idiots, Mr. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi included (sic).”

Devadas said that at the international level, the decade of eighties was a time of tremendous Islamism for the first time since the end of Caliphate in Turkey in the 1920s.

“After the Islamic revolution in Iran, there was a tremendous sentiment in Kashmir,” he said. “Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei and the Imam of Kabba visited Srinagar on the same day and as a mark of Shia-Sunni unity, La Sharqiya La Garbiya, Islamia, Islamia (No East, No West; Only Islamic, Only Islamic) slogans were raised,” he said.

Drawing parallels with what was happening in Kashmir in 1985 and today, Devadas said there was resentment among the youngsters then and there is resentment among the young Kashmiris today too.

“It led to the trajectories toward militancy of young men like Nayeem Khan and Shahid-ul-Islam by the late 1980s,” he said.

The renewed interest in Kashmir cow may have its roots in history though.

Mridu Rai in her book on Kashmir, ‘Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects’ writes: “While the Azaan was acknowledged to be crucial to Muslims, banning of cow slaughter was deemed by non-Muslim rulers as critical to their own dharma and so also to their sovereignty relying on its protection.”

In Maharaja Gulab Singh’s time, cow slaughter was punishable with life imprisonment while Maharaja Ranbir Singh ordered slitting a woman’s tongue for beating a cow that had torn some clothes she had hung out to dry.

In Jammu Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state of India, the recent announcement calling for implementing the ban on cow slaughter has evoked a widespread response among the Muslim community with most believing that the PDP-BJP-PC government led by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was implementing the Hindutava agenda.

Some of them have reacted saying time was not far when Kashmir Muslims would be asked to drink cow urine as a growing cult of Hindu worshippers in India believe drinking fresh cow urine helps prevent cancer.

Others in Kashmir have responded saying Hindu India cannot cow down Muslim Kashmir.




The Year of the Cow

This year, a cow, Kachir Gaaw (Brown Cow), daughter of Gura Dand (Red Bull) got an admission ticket issued by the Jammu Kashmir Board of Professional Entrance Examination (JKBOPEE) to appear in a Common Entrance Test for becoming a junior engineer.

The cow was allotted a seat at Government Degree College Bemina for writing the examination.

This year, the cow was responsible for deciding the fate of teachers (Rehbar-e-Taleems) in the High Court.

The court made a teacher write an essay on cow in Urdu language in an open court and ordered slapping a case against him when he failed, inviting strong observations from the judge who wanted “soulless” authorities to close down education “tuck shops”.

The direction came when Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar was hearing a petition challenging appointment of Muhammad Imran Khan as Rehbar-e-Taleem (teacher) in a school in south Kashmir.

This year, the cow was responsible for a pro-India politician Sajad Gani Lone not attending office for several days after making his debut as a minister in the Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janta Party-Peoples Conference alliance.

And this year, the High Court’s direction to enforce the 83-year-old cow-slaughter ban forced people to go for a complete shutdown across Kashmir and prompted calls for mass cow slaughter on Eid-ul-Adha, the religious festival of Muslims.

‘Year of the Cow’ by Jared Stone is a book regarding a story of a man, a cow, and a question: What am I eating?

After realizing he knew more about television on his wall than the food on his plate, Stone buys 420 pounds of beef directly from a rancher and embarks on an inspiring culinary adventure.

Year of the Cow protagonist meets the rancher who raised his cow and learns how to successfully pack a freezer with cow parts. He gets to know his bovine and delves into diets and eating habits, examining the ethnography of cattle, how previous generations ate, why environmentalists and real food aficionados were mad for grass-fed beef, why certain cuts of beef tend to end up on our plates while others don’t.

Just as the cow opens a new world to Stone, the recent controversy is likely to open the eyes of Kashmir Muslims to what the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang, Bhagrang Dal, Shiv Sena and BJP had in store for them.

With this controversy, people of Kashmir are likely to fall more in love with eating beef particularly the people living in Srinagar, who otherwise are averse to eating beef and prefer mutton.

The reaction of the people more than anything is supposed to culminate in the slaughter of more cows than usual in Kashmir.