SRINAGAR: The Indian government has ordered authorities in held Kashmir to ban the slaughter of all animals in the Muslim-majority region for Eidul Azha.

The order by the Hindu nationalist government, released late on Thursday, is likely to heighten tensions in India-held Kashmir, where anxiety has deepened since New Delhi revoked its special autonomous status in August 2019.

Cows are considered sacred by many Hindus and their slaughter is banned in the region and many Indian states, but the new order extends the ban to all animals for the first time.

The Indian government’s animal welfare board ordered the police and authorities to “take all preventive measures” to halt the “illegal killing of animals and to take stringent action against offenders.”

Move triggers outrage in Muslim-majority region

Muslims traditionally kill a goat, sheep or cow for Eidul Azha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, every year. The Eid holiday is to be marked from July 21 to 23 this year.

The Muttahida Majlis-i-Ulema, a coalition of Muslim religious bodies in Kashmir, expressed “strong resentment” at the government move.

In a statement, the MMU said animals sacrifice to honour Prophet Ibrahim “is an important tenet of religion on this day” and urged the government to revoke the “arbitrary” order that is “unacceptable to Muslims of the state as they directly infringe upon their religious freedom and their personal law.”

The government order also triggered outrage on social media.

The order was a new sign of “anti-Muslim policies being forced on Kashmir”, said a shopkeeper in the main Srinagar city while requesting anonymity.

Residents say they fear reprisals for expressing political views since the region’s special status was revoked in 2019.

The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, and the New Delhi government has put the territory it controls under direct rule.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2021

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