Image Courtesy:

For this reason or another, “cow” has turned into a political debate here in Kashmir. It may sound hilarious but it is true: this year could easily be marked as “The Cow Year”. It isn’t quite certain whether this year should be celebrated, or marked as a grim one for the cow and bull fraternity.

Early this year, it was the brown cow who had applied for the common entrance test (maybe she wanted to become a doctor) but later, it seems, she changed her mind as she remained absent on test day (bunked exams). Then, the same cow debate sparked up when one RET teacher was ordered to write an essay on the topic of “cow” during a court proceeding. The event made headlines on TV channels and news reports, ending with the declaration that evert teacher must appear in an entrance test to prove that they have the capability to teach students. It was a shock for the whole state that a teacher who himself cannot write a few lines on cow – how was he eligible to teach students?! All of this ended when a few days ago Jammu and Kashmir high court ordered a ban on beef (ban on cow slaughter) in the state.

It was not the first time in the history of Kashmir that the court has ordered a ban on cow slaughter. Its history dates back to when Kashmir was under Dogra rule. During the Dogra rule, the state witnessed strict prohibition on the sale of beef and the slaughter of cows. But after the elected governments took over, there was a relaxation in the sale of beef in several parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1986, under the regime of Jagmohan, the-then governor, when some Hindu groups demanded a strict implementation of the ban on the sale of beef, Qazi Nisar, the chief cleric of south Kashmir, made history when he slaughtered a cow at Lal Chowk, Islamabad, to defy the order. Later, he became a famous leader and important personality, who led the formation of the Muslim United Front, commonly known as the MUF – the same political alliance that had contested the 1987 Assembly polls, but lost due to rigging (a commonly believed, yet hidden fact).

The high court order was indeed a shock for the people of Kashmir, especially the Muslims, which led them to the conclusion that the “Hindutva”-owned current government is directly or indirectly trying to hurt their religious sentiments. People across Kashmir responded with shutdown across Kashmir to mark their protest against the court order. Business establishments, shops, government offices were closed just to express anguish towards the “Hindutva” government. Across Kashmir people chanted anti-government slogans, hurled stones at police personnel, and slaughtered bovine animals to defy a court ruling upholding a colonial-era law that banned cow slaughter and the sale of beef in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir.

The RSS, BJP, and other components who demand a ban on cow slaughter need to read the 19th Livestock Census of India, 2012, which tells us that the stock of cows and other female bovines are not in any grave danger. The census shows that their numbers had increased by 7.16 percent to 216 million since 2007. It is the male of the species that is threatened, as the number of bulls has declined by 18.6 percent to 84 million in the same period. As male bovines today account for just 30 percent of the cattle population, it clearly shows that it is the bulls and not the cows that are being butchered.

So-called political analysts need to know the hard facts about India's livestock before passing any statement on the ban of cow slaughter. Cattle are a huge economic contributor in all rural areas. The census shows the strange paradox that two-thirds of India's cattle are female. This is because males are most valuable as draught animals or for meat and hide, which is why their number is declining. It is also significant that it is the male animals (or birds) that are mostly used for meat, as the females are more valuable as breeders and for milk or eggs. If the males are not used for ploughing or transport, they are only useful for their meat or hide. The gender imbalance is increasing rapidly. A recent report from the Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal, shows that the share of draught animals for farm power on Indian farms declined from 44 percent in 1971-72 to just 4 percent in 2012-13, with larger roles for tractors and electric and diesel pumps.

Basic fundamental rights give a person the right to practise any religion, then why are Hindutva groups in hurry to demand bans on beef or cow slaughter? The ban on cow slaughter is just a glimpse of Indian brutality in Kashmir. To fulfil the demand of a small group, they overlooked the majority.

This is Indian-held Kashmir – where the majority of the population (Muslim) is being ruthlessly killed, where Muslim boys are disappearing, where Muslim mothers are still waiting for their sons and where use of weapons like pellet guns, rubber bullets is an everyday reality, where innocents are being labelled as terrorists and killed in fake encounters. And all the while the minority is being rewarded with job packages, colonies, security, and loads of monetary benefits.

The Indian government seems to be in a hurry to bring misery to the lives of Kashmiris. Recently it passed a statement declaring that it would upgrade an organization like Ikhwan, then the mysterious killings and now the beef ban is insinuating that Kashmir is illegally owned by India. Kashmir has witnessed several harsh laws like AFSPA – the ban on cow slaughter is another manifestation of India’s blatant misuse of legal authority in the state.