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No ban on animal slaughter in J&K, clarifies admin

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday said there was no ban on bovine slaughter in the union territory, clarifying that the earlier order seeking to prohibit illegal killing of cows and camels on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha was issued by the animal welfare board for implementation of various acts concerning animal slaughter.

An official spokesman said the Animal and Sheep Husbandry Department clarified that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has not issued any order banning the slaughtering of animals in accordance with rules.

“Animal Welfare Board of India every year issues advisory regarding animal slaughtering to be carried out while following laws and rules. The same advisory has been issued this year also and has been forwarded to the concerned authorities,” he said.

The Principal Secretary, Animal and Sheep Husbandry,  Naveen Kumar Choudhary also said that no ban has been imposed on sacrificing animals on Eid-ul-Azha while stating that slaughtering should be done as per animal laws.

Local news agency KNS quoted Choudhary as saying that the advisory has been misquoted as ban order. “It is just an advisory, not a ban order and it has been issued by the Animal Welfare Board asking the concerned to comply with animal laws and the same has been forwarded by the director planning,” Choudhary said.

“The letter only asked the enforcement agencies to comply with the rules of the Animal Welfare Board,” he said, adding that the slaughtering should be done as per the law and there should be no illegal transportation of bovine animals and slaughtering of animals on the roads, “which will be acted upon”.

He also said that the advisory is not just for Jammu and Kashmir, but for the entire country.

Earlier, in a communication addressed to the divisional commissioners and IGPs of Jammu as well as Kashmir, the J&K Animal and Sheep Husbandry and Fisheries Department sought a ban on “illegal” killing of cows, calves, camels on the occasion of the Muslim festival during which sacrificing sheep, cows, calves and camels is an important ritual.

Director Planning, J&K Animal/Sheep Husbandry and Fisheries Department, while citing an official letter dated 25.06.2021 from the Animal Welfare Board of India, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India, said a large numbers of sacrificial animals are likely to be slaughtered in the UT of J&K during Bakra Eid (Eid-ul-Azha) festival scheduled from July 21-23, 2021.

“The Animal Welfare Board of India, in view of animal welfare has requested for implementation of all precautionary measures to strictly implement the Animal Welfare Laws viz. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; Transport of Animal Welfare Rules, 1978; Transport of Animals (Amendment) Rules, 2001; Slaughter House Rules, 2001; Municipal Laws & Food Safety & Standards Authority of India directions for slaughtering of animals (under which camels cannot be slaughtered) during the festival,” the communication read.

The Director Planning said he is directed “to request you to take all preventive measures as per the provisions of acts & rules referred above for implementation of the animal welfare laws, to stop illegal killing of animals & to take stringent action against the offenders violating animal welfare laws.”

The copies of the letter were sent to Chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India for information; all District Magistrates; Commissioner, SMC/JMC; Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Jammu/Kashmir; Director, Sheep Husbandry Department, Jammu/Kashmir; Director, Urban Local Bodies, Jammu/Kashmir; and all Senior Superintendents of Police.

The communication drew strong criticism from religious and political organisations.

The National Conference took strong exception to the communication seeking to ban illegal killing of cows and camels on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. It had called for the revocation of the order.

Expressing dismay over the order, party’s spokesperson said it is conceivable to flag that the “measure is unjust and inexcusable”.

“Having such strictures on cow slaughter are well understood because of it being an object of veneration for a particular community but having such strictures in place for other bovines and draught animals is completely unfair,” he said.

“The blanket ban will give another vehicle of intimidation to various unscrupulous elements to bully and pose a threat to the lives of Muslims associated with the trade and transport of bovine animals,” he said.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU), an amalgam of several religious organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, had also expressed strong resentment against the ban, calling it a “direct infringement of religious freedom”.

“All the constituent members of the MMU — which is headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq — in a joint statement expressed strong resentment against the government’s ban on the sacrifice of bovine animals on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha,” a statement issued by the amalgam here said.

The MMU said it is surprised that the sacrifice of bovine animals on the religious occasion of Eid is being termed “illegal” and disallowed under the garb of prevention of cruelty to animals.

“The sacrifice of permitted animals – including bovines – on Eid-ul-Azha in the way of Almighty Allah, is precisely the reason for its celebration. Hence, it is an important tenet of religion on this day and a duty upon persons on whom it is obligatory,” it said.

The statement said a Muslim has to refrain from any kind of negligence in performing this act of worship.

“So why are Muslims being restricted by the government in performing their religious obligation?” the MMU asked.

The organisation said the government should “desist” from issuing such “arbitrary” orders that are “unacceptable” to Muslims of the state as they “directly infringe upon their religious freedom and their personal law, causing them great anguish”.

The MMU urged the government to immediately revoke the “arbitrary and discriminatory order” and let the people of Kashmir celebrate Eid in keeping with its religious obligations and festival spirit.

The statement said the MMU will convene an urgent meeting of its key constituents and leading Muftis of J&K on Sunday at the residence of Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam and inform the people accordingly. (With PTI inputs)

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