National Conference submits bill to lift ban on slaughter of bovines

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Sep 17, 2015 21:25 IST

The beef ban row in the Valley refused to die down after National Conference legislators on Wednesday submitted a bill in the legislative assembly seeking abolishment of the constitutional provisions criminalising slaughter of bovines in the state.

The bill is likely to come up for discussion in the autumn session of the state legislature starting from October 3, 2015.

Two senior NC leaders, Mian Altaf Ahmad and Muhammad Akbar Lone, submitted the bill in the assembly secretariat.

The Jammu and Kashmir high court on September 10 ordered the state police to ensure strict implementation of a colonial-era law, banning the sale of beef after a petitioner argued the slaughter of bovines hurts the sentiments of some communities.

The ruling comes in a year when several states have banned beef trade and cow slaughter, stoking an ever-swirling debate with several right wing organisations supporting the move while many minority groups and activists have termed such decisions a blow to personal freedom and India's secular fabric.

Experts say the high court order is a reiteration of a section of the 1932 Ranbir Penal Code that is applicable in J&K, which says slaughter of cows and 'like animals' is punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment as well as a financial penalty.

A division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal instructed the director general of police to order top police officials of all districts to ensure enforcement of its verdict banning sale of beef in the state.

The court was hearing advocate Parimoksh Seth's public interest litigation (PIL), saying that in spite of the Ranbir Penal Code provisions, bovine slaughter was rampant in the state.

Meanwhile, the PIL has become an embarrassment for the PDP-led coalition as Seth is a deputy advocate general representing the state government. He is also member of the youth wing of the government.

However, the PDP's ally in the government, Bharatiya Janata Party has cautioned against any move to amend the law banning the sale of beef.

Independent MLA Engineer Rashid has also moved a separate bill, seeking lifting of ban on slaughtering bovines. Rashid said he will soon be starting a signature campaign against the ban.

Meanwhile, a prominent cleric from South Kashmir's Anantnag district, chairman of Umat-e-Islami, Qazi Ahmad Yasir, on Thursday sat on a hunger strike against the beef ban.

He has set up a camp inside an Eidgarh, in Srinagar, where he is joined by members of high court bar, traders and transporters associations.

A similar move by then governor Jagmohan imposing a ban on consumption of beef in 1986, was protested by Yasir's father, leading agitation against the ban. Qazi Nisar, an unknown cleric from Anantnag, had slaughtered two sheep to defy the court order.

His defiance brought Nisar into the limelight and a year later he became one of the main architects of the Muslim United Front, the political alliance which contested the 1987 assembly polls, and was widely believed to have lost in an allegedly rigged election.

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