Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Indian PM stokes Eid tensions by banning animal sacrifice in Kashmir

Analysts suggest the ruling party wants to inflame Muslim violence to bring out the Hindu vote in upcoming state elections.

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India has ordered a crackdown on the religious sacrifice of animals in Kashmir, appearing to invite tensions in the majority-Muslim region days before one of Islam’s biggest holidays, the Telegraph is reporting.

Animal welfare officials released an order for the end of the “illegal killing or sacrifice of cows, calves, camels and other animals”.

The directive to the Indian-administered part of the disputed territory came just days before Muslims mark Eid al-Adha by offering prayers and slaughtering livestock.

Religious leaders in the region condemned the order and residents predicted widespread protests.

Sentiment against Indian rule has run deep in the contested Himalayan region for decades. Many Muslims seek either independence or unification with Pakistan, which controls the other part of the region.

Tensions increased in 2019 when Delhi revoked the region’s semi-autonomy.

Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, has been accused of trying to alter its demographics by increasing the proportion of Hindus.

Elsewhere in India, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been accused of whipping up violence against minority groups

“Delhi is interfering in our religion,” Bashir Ahmad Thoker, who lives in the northern Baramulla district of Kashmir, said. “Sacrificing animals is mandatory for Muslims on Eid, but Delhi wants to implement a Hindu nationalist agenda in Kashmir.”

Abdul Razaq, from Srinagar, said: “We would prefer to die defending our religion, rather than accept this diktat.”

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema group of clerics urged Delhi to “revoke this arbitrary and discriminatory order”.

Cows are considered sacred in Hindu-majority India, and slaughtering them is illegal in much of the country.

Since Modi took power in 2014, a series of mob attacks by so-called ‘cow vigilantes’ from extremist Hindu groups have targeted Muslims, who make up 14% of India’s nearly 1.4 billion people. The victims have been accused of smuggling cows for slaughter or carrying beef. Over 40 have been killed.

One political analyst, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, suggested the BJP wants to inflame Muslim violence to bring out the Hindu vote in upcoming state elections.

Gowhar Geelani, another analyst, said: “Banning the sacrifice of animals on Eid-al-Adha is a message that neither the sentiments nor the religious freedoms of the Muslim community in Kashmir matters.”

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