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JEHANGIR ALI | 18 SEPTEMBER, 2015

Beef Ban:Religious Scholars Warn J&K Government Not to Interfere

Representational image, of a family herding cattle in Zanskar,Jammu and Kashmir


SRINAGAR: The controversy over the beef ban refuses to die down in Jammu and Kashmir with a group of religious scholars calling for slaughter of bovine animals on the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.

A resolution was passed by Muttaheda-Majlis-e-Ulema headed by moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at Mirwaiz Manzil in Srinagar, Thursday, asking Muslims across the state to defy the ban on Eid-ul-Azha by sacrificing bovine animals, instead of sheep and goats.

Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and other factions of Hurriyat Conference have termed the recent order by J&K High Court, asking police to strictly enforce the law on beef ban, as "interference in religious affairs" of the people of J&K.

After daylong deliberations on the court order, the religious scholars at Mirwaiz Manzil passed a resolution, warning the state government against interfering "in our religious affairs,” failing which they threatened to launch mass agitation, according to the resolution.

The issue is turning into another eyesore for the embattled chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed with the High Court also admitting a writ petition on Wednesday that challenges the constitutional validity of Section 298-A and 298-B of Ranbir Penal Code, an archaic legislation which regulates the ban on bovine slaughter and sale of beef in the state.

The court issued notice to Sayeed-led PDP-BJP coalition government to file a response within a week on the petition filed by Afzal Qadri, a retired law professor at the University of Kashmir. “We respect the secularism in the country. There is a need to consider the petition so that secular fabric is not injured,” the court observed.

Earlier, the Jammu wing of the High Court had ordered the J&K Police to strictly enforce the decades-old ban on the sale and consumption of beef on a petition filed by Parimoksh Seth, the Deputy Advocate General of the state government, which left the Peoples Democratic Party in an embarrassing position.

After Seth declined to remove his name from the petition, the state government, in a damage control exercise, removed the Additional Advocate General, Vishal Sharma, from the state's home department for "failing" to defend the government's argument at the Jammu wing of the court.

Vishal Sharma is son of Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s state president, Advocate Leela Karan Sharma, who led the two-month agitation over Amarnath land row as the convenor of Amarnath Yatra Sangarh Samiti in 2008.

The opposition National Conference has also submitted a bill in the assembly secretariat for making amendments in the Section 298- A, 298- B, 298- C and 298- D. “This law is a violation of Article 25. We are hopeful that this bill will be supported by the members of ruling coalition and other members,” NC's General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said.

The bench in Srinagar, hearing the petition of the retired law professor, has however, observed that the petition is no bar for the government to scrap or act on Article 298-A and B of RPC. “The government shall be free to amend or repeal the impugned legislation and the pendency of the petition in the court will not come in its way,” the court observed on Wednesday.

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