This town of Pulwama in South Kashmir has turned into a battleground…
Kashmiri Muslim protesters are pelting stones at the police, who are responding with bullets and teargas shells. Kashmir separatist leader is on the front row.
“They are saying they won’t let us eat cow’s meat and we say we will eat it because it is permitted in Allah’s law that was brought to us by our beloved Prophet. If your courts rule against the law of Allah we won’t accept it. No Court, no party, and no Hindu Nationalist group can force us to do that.”
In the capital city of Srinagar, activists from the women’s group have slaughtered a cow in public.
“We want to remind India that Kashmir is not part of India. So Indian laws are not applicable here. India has occupied this land with the military and we have been fighting against this illegal occupation for the last 6 decades. So the Indian ban on the killing of bovine animals means absolutely nothing for us. No power on earth can stop us from following our religion,” Asia Adriabi is the group leader said.
The protests evolved after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court ordered a strict implementation of the ban on slaughtering cows.
The ban was first introduced in 1930s when Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu king, but it was later ignored by Kashmir’s Muslim majority.
The slaughter of cows is banned in most parts of India, but earlier this year the Hindu Nationalist Party, BJP, introduced a ban on the slaughter of bulls and bullocks as well – saying they are sacred to Hindu belief.
A lawyer linked with the BJP party filed a petition to re-instate the ban in Kashmir, explains party leader, Arun Gupta.
“This law came into existence before 1947 and it is applicable today also. The court has only said that since the law already exists it should be implemented more strictly.”
Kashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. Many believe that controversies like these will strengthen the ongoing separatist movement.
Responding to the public reaction, the opposition party in Kashmir has decided to propose a cancellation of the beef ban.
Umar Abdullah is former chief minister and leader of opposition in the Kashmir assembly.
“As per Islam then the consumption of pork is wrong, so are you going to ban pig slaughter to satisfy Muslims or are you going to impose Ramadan on people who don’t fast during the holy month of fasting? The overall sentiment of the Muslim community has been hurt by this, so people who otherwise wouldn’t be consuming beef are now looking at it from a completely different point of view,” Abdullah said.
As the Muslim celebration of Eidul Adha falls this week, clerics have been urging people to sacrifice more cows than other animals in protest.
“Kashmir is a Muslim majority state and as Muslims we are bound by Islamic rules. Sacrifice is a religious obligation and nobody can dictate to us what to sacrifice and what not to. All the animals allowed will be sacrificed and the ban will be resisted with full force. We will not tolerate any interference in our religious matters,” Bashiruddin, Kashmir’s grand Mufti, said.