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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Officials in Kashmir ban animal sacrifice on Muslim holiday

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Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have banned the sacrifice of animals during the upcoming Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday, in a ruling that is likely to further stoke anti-India anger in the disputed Muslim-majority region.

An order issued on Thursday said the “illegal killing/sacrifices of cows/calves, camels & other animals” must be stopped, citing animal welfare laws.

It’s unclear why the government issued the near-total ban on sacrificing animals. Generally, cows are considered sacred in Hindu-majority India, and slaughtering them or eating beef is illegal or restricted across much of the country. Despite the ban on cow slaughter in Kashmir, beef is widely available across much of its Muslim-majority areas.

Muslims traditionally mark Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, by offering special prayers and slaughtering livestock, usually a goat, sheep, a cow or a camel, to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith. The meat of the sacrificed animals is shared among family and friends and poor people who cannot afford to sacrifice animals.

This year’s holiday falls on July 21-23 in the region.

An association of groups of Muslim scholars in the region called the government order “arbitrary” and “unacceptable.” The association, Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema, said in a statement that “the sacrifice of permitted animals, including bovines” on Eid al-Adha “is an important tenet of religion on this day.”

It urged the government to immediately revoke the “discriminatory order.”

Sentiment against Indian rule runs deep in Kashmir, where many Muslim residents seek independence or unification with Pakistan, which controls the other part of the region. Both nuclear-armed rivals claim the territory in its entirety.

Kashmiri Muslims fear that the Indian government led by Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has begun to alter Kashmir’s demography and identity after stripping the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019.

Since Modi’s ascendance to power in 2014, India has seen a series of mob attacks on minority groups. Most have involved so-called cow vigilantes from extremist Hindu groups. They have usually targeted Muslims, who make up 14% of India’s nearly 1.4 billion people. Hindus account for about 80% of the population.

The victims have been accused of either smuggling cows for slaughter or possessing beef. At least two dozen people have died in such attacks.

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