A Kashmiri Explains Why The Beef Ban Is A Bad Idea For A State Already In Turmoil

Posted on November 20, 2015 in Politics, Society

By Bareen Gundroo:

To prepare for this piece, which attempts to throw light on the beef ban and its overall impact on Jammu and Kashmir, I decided to do a little reading, research – whatever you may call it, to make sure I did not miss any key details. What caught my eye were not the key details in those articles I read, but the comments of my fellow Indians that interested me more, and put things into perspective.

What I read explained the impact of the ‘beef ban’ around me. From my experience, the Internet can be harsh and judgemental if you are not clear on what you stand for. We tend to look at what the eye shows us. Rarely do we look beyond that. Rarely do we comprehend. Hence I will clearly be taking a stand on the beef issue.

Reuters/Danish Ismail
A Kashmiri demonstrator throws a stone towards Indian police during a protest after Eid al-Adha prayers in Srinagar, September 25, 2015. Hundreds of demonstrators protested after the beef ban order by a state court in Kashmir. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Before I put forth my viewpoint, I would want to be clear on the fact that I do not belong to any party, faction or side. I am what you would call a mute spectator who happened to find a medium to share what she observes. I happen to be tolerant to all, neutral even. A viewpoint. That is what this is. You can take the liberty to call this a disclaimer.

As a Kashmiri, I do have an opinion on the beef ban, as it has affected my state more than anyone else’s for over half a century.

The beef ban is an 83-year-old law, brought into force by the Dogra Maharaja in the then princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, banning the slaughter and sale of bovine animals. You and I both will agree that J&K is way past the Dogra era, landing into a state of eternal dispute.

Before I proceed to the subject of Jammu & Kashmir, I would like to make a generic reasoning about the issue.

For a moment let us assume there is no disputed J&K. India boasts of being a country which hosts diverse cultures, beliefs, religions, creeds, castes etc. There is diversity in every facet of life. Keeping this in mind, I put forward to a well-educated mind like yours some food for thought:

• Can a country with a national heritage like that afford to attack one religion and preserve another?
• Don’t such actions directly contradict the concept of national integration?
• Is it not the responsibility of the carriers of such a nation to find ways and means that suit every facet of its diversity?
• Can India alienate one essential facet of its diversity and still hold the title of being ‘Incredible India’?

I took the liberty to raise these questions with an assumption. If you remove the assumption of an undisputed J&K and come back to reality, here is what you need to consider:

Before considering any facet of this event, you cannot ignore the fact that this is Jammu and Kashmir, a declared disputed territory that has been the centre-stage for a tug of war between two countries. Every action here has an equal and opposite reaction.

An ordinary Kashmiri youth already has a sense of alienation from the rest of India and events like these do nothing but widen this gap by leaps. Kashmir is a state where majority of the population is Muslim, then how do you rationally proceed with a subject, which directly challenges their religion, their faith, their way of life?

I do not advocate nor disdain any action, however, I do question the rationality and reason with which such actions are conducted. How can you stop someone from following what has been prescribed in his/her religion? Moreover, if allowing one means disrespecting the other, you ought to be smart enough to figure out a way for both, rather than out rightly attacking one and that too in a state plagued by an anti-India sentiment.

I have no interest in what politics lurk underneath this controversy. Some consider it a part of a bigger plan, a ‘Hinduvta 2.0’ of some sort. Why give a culturally rich concept a tag of dirty politics, is another one of the many things I can’t seem to fathom. What concerns and bothers me is the complete lack of reason and rationality in the carriers of justice, in our nation.

During this beef ban strike we got to re-visit history again and have a Qazi Nisar moment. In 1986, when Governor Jagmohan imposed a ban on consumption of meat based on the demand of some Hindu extremist groups, Qazi Nisar, an unknown cleric from Anantnag slaughtered two sheep to defy the order. His defiance brought him into the limelight and a year later, he became one of the main architects of the Muslim United Front. Now, Nisar’s son Qazi Yasir, the incumbent Mirwaiz of south Kashmir, has taken up the fight against the beef ban. After he had announced that he planned a repeat of the 1986 moment, Yasir was arrested by the police in a late night raid on that Thursday, 10th September, 2015. Another incident of defiance was by a local party head who slaughtered a cow on Eid.

For 83 years, the beef ban was kept somewhat in the shadows, apart from some isolated cases of protest. There was no implementation of this ban on a public scale as it is being done now. No one was fully aware, I for one didn’t even know that it existed.

Why the noise now? Now 83 years later, if you decide to uphold or implement this law for a noble intention, do you not need to proceed with a little caution or do we just shove it in front of a majority Muslim state, and that too a disputed one, where every action results in some sort of a disaster?

My whole argument is entirely based on reason, not bias. Had the government had a certain sense to proceed sensitively and logically, we could have been spared an unnecessary revival of history. I personally could have had a few more productive days at my college.

Leaving all of this apart, all I intend to convey and ask you a very simple question:

Where is the rationality in us? Why is this nation slipping into a society of what I call “padhe likhey anpad”?

For a Muslim its halaal. For a Non- Muslim it’s the opposite. Apparently, our country nurtures both.

Is it irony?

I call it an impasse.


An ordinary Kashmiri.

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