Friday, 13 November 2015 12:11

Ban or no ban

Ban or no ban

By: ysn

The beef ban controversy has made for drawing room discussion for quite some time now, and in both rural and urban households in equal measure. But the controversy is more layered in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where people believe it is a classic case of "much ado about nothing". Jammu and Kashmir, which is India's only Muslim majority state, is in a political storm as not only its people but its very political leadership are divided on whether the ban is of any relevance or logic. So much so, that even the High Courts have passed conflicting orders on the issue of banning bovine slaughter.


Whereas many leaders in the ruling People's Democratic Party are protesting the ban, coalition partner BJP are upbeat about it. This has created a rather baffling picture about whether there is any agreement between the two parties on important policy matter affecting the law and order situation of the state. The beef row has already taken a violent turn, when two BJP workers were gheraoed in Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar by locals. The locals are resentful of the BJP as they consider them to be the architect of the ban. Police had to intervene to save them from the mob's ire. On the other hand, two truck drivers in Bijbehara in Anantnag district were set ablaze on 9 October after rumour surfaced that they had consumed beef.


What is surprising here that even the judiciary is baffled at whether there should be a beef ban in place. The state government led by Chief Minsiter Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has in fact received two conflicting directives from the two branches of the Jammu and Kashmir government over beef ban. While the Jammu wing of the High Court has advised the state government to enforce the ban stringently across the state and make the slaughter of bovine animals and consumption of their meat illegal, the Srinagar wing has argued against it.


So confused was the government at such contradicting directives, that it decided to refer the matter to the Supreme Court of India. The opposition Congress party, however, believes that the ban was not needed, as bovine slaughter is already banned in Kashmir since the time of its erstwhile king, Maharaja Hari Singh.


"Beef ban is imposed in Kashmir since the times of Maharaja Hari Singh, courtesy the Ranbir Penal Code. The killing of bovine animals and the sale of beef are already restricted in the state. Why are then the BJP and PDP talking about it now? This is only going to add fuel to fire and create a conflict out of nothing," Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee's Organizing Secretary and Media Incharge Salman Nizami told Youth Street News.


He added: "The present state government of BJP and PDP has failed to deliver on its promises and so they are focusing on non-issues."


Interestingly, most people feel that in Kashmir a beef ban is irrelevant because people are not beef lovers at the first place. Most Kashmiris are vorcaious mutton eaters in fact, and the valley does not even have bovine slaughter houses. Salman Nizami further said that people in Kashmir do not really eat beef on a regular basis but there are some illegal beef export centres. "If the Centre is serious about stopping bovine slaughter, it should rather act against some smugglers who are engaged in beef business, and also those police officials who turn a blind eye to it in exchange of speed money," Nizami told YSN.


The common Kashmiri feels that the very discussion of beef ban was not needed in a state where people do not primarily eat it. It is only leading to unnecessary skirmishes. Recently, Engineer Rashid, an independent MLA, was roughed up inside the Assembly by BJP legislators because he had allegedly held a beef party. 


Interestingly, the ban is in fact encouraging people to eat beef to register a protest although they are the ones who never consumed it when left to themselves. "It was not an issue but the high court order to ensure ban throughout state and enthusiasm shown by BJP ministers to ensure ban had reverse impact in the valley with meat eating Kashmir showing defiance to court order and openly said they would take beef come what may," a very senior scribe in Kashmir told YSN on the condition of anonymity.

Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that the beef ban episode is a much ado about nothing in mutton loving Kashmir. It is only going to incite people to start consuming it, leaving behind mutton and chicken which have always been more popular in the valley. At the same time, the coalition partners in the state government, and even the two branches of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, seem to be at their wit's end, when asked ban or no ban?


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