LUCKNOWThree days ahead of Bakrid, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate flagged controversy by declaring that ‘qurbani’ or sacrifice of animals was ‘haraam’ (prohibited) during the festival. The RSS affiliate Muslim Rashtriya Manch’s (MRM) stand evoked angry reactions from both Shia and Sunni clerics who cited verses from the holy Quran to maintain that ‘qurbani’ had religious sanction since the days of the Prophet.“Political history can be rewritten but none can rewrite religious history. Qurbani of animals has religious sanction dating back to the days of the Prophet and the holy Quran clearly mentions it,” a visibly upset Sunni cleric Khalid Rasheed Firangimahal, the naib-imam of Lucknow Eidgah, told HT.Firangimahal also met UP DGP Sulkhan Singh with a delegation of clerics to state what he called “community’s concern” on sacrifice during Bakrid, the first under Yogi Adityanath government that had launched a crackdown against illegal slaughter houses and cow slaughter. The Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) was set up in 2002 by the RSS to reach out to the Muslims on various issues, including the vexed Ayodhya dispute. Interestingly, even Muslims owing allegiance to the BJP too refused to buy the MRM claim. “Animal sacrifice most certainly isn’t banned during Bakrid and whosoever is saying is not putting the correct picture,” said Rumana Siddiqui the former president of BJP’s minority cell. A few days back, the Lucknow district administration had announced a ban on camel sacrifice during Bakrid and the clerics had supported the ban.“We assured the DGP that animals banned by the government won’t be sacrificed and those who violate the order won’t have our support as well. But to say that qurbani of all animals was banned and justify it by citing religion is plain mischief,” the Sunni cleric said.On their part, the MRM officials, who had celebrated Bakrid last year by cutting a goat shaped cake and then followed up by getting Muslims to break their roza (dawn to dusk fasting) with cow milk in Ayodhya during Eid, stuck to their stand against animal sacrifice. “God loves all living beings. There is nothing to justify animal sacrifice. We are Muslims too and believe animal sacrifice doesn’t have religious sanction,” said Raees Khan, an MRM office bearer.MRM’s point didn’t cut much ice with Syed Saif Abbas Naqvi, president of Shia Chand Committee, either who slammed MRM for trying to divide the community.“It’s sad and highly condemnable,” he said.